Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cyclocross Continues... in the Dark.

The time change has wreaked some havoc on my training. Riding in the dark, in the cold, alone, is generally less than fun. Somehow I continue to drag myself out there, a few nights a week. The thought of taking a really long lunch during work and getting out while there is daylight has crossed my mind a few times. After two weekends without racing I was relatively psyched for the West Hill Shop race in Putney, VT. It's a course that suits me well, a fair amount of turning technique required in the first half of the lap followed by some drawn out sections requiring some 'dig in' power.

Last year's race went something like this: I started great, I was hanging with the top 4 or 5 guys for the first 2 or 3 laps, then I popped at the top of the run up. I drifted back a little until Jake caught me, passed me and dropped me. Then I caught up and dropped him with a half lap to go.

This year's race played out similarly. I wasn't quite with the top guys, but I was ahead of Jake. Then Jake caught up. Jake and I rode together for a few laps. On one lap he knocked his seat slightly crooked, but he took care of it quickly. The very next lap, in the very same place, my seat got knocked completely out of whack. The nose was pointed sky-ward. I managed to knock it down fairly far, but it was still rather uncomfortable. Jake opened a gap here, enough that I wasn't able to catch back up with my seat in such an awkward position. He took further advantage and attacked where I couldn't really tell what the gap between us was.

So Jake, I'm not going to blame my seat situation on me losing to you, because you might have beat me this time. However, I am going to blame it for not providing the opportunity for us to have a more exciting finish.

Check out the playlist of videos covering all seven laps.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gran Prix of Gloucester 2010

This post will simply contain video footage, except for this link to photos.
And the statement, "Wow I need to get some training in!"

On with the featured videos!!

Day 1 - The start of the race. Totally sketchy, downhill into a turn very quickly in the lap. This guy goes down, hard, in front of me. It seemed he was getting up pretty quick though as I went by.

Gloucester Day 1 Start - Cat 3 Men from Scott Frison on Vimeo.

Day 2 - Lap 1

Day 2 - Lap 2

Day 2 - Lap 3

Day 2 - Lap 4

Day 2 - Lap 5

Day 2 - Lap 6

Yeah, so I guess I tend to tilt my head to the left. Thanks to helmet cam, it looks like I view the world at an off kilter angle while riding a bike. Maybe it's right, though I suspect it has more to do with oxygen levels than head angles.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mt. Washington Bicycle Hill Climb 2010

Most of the mountain, especially the early miles, is a little bit of a blur. I never saw the 1 mile post, so by the time I got to the 2 mile post I was wondering where I was and thinking this was going to be a bit longer of a ride than I remembered. Realizing that I'd actually completed 2 miles was a relief.

The Mt. Washington Auto Road is relentless. Sections that would appear flat are not, and if you're really racing they're just a good place to pick up a little extra speed. Climbing up the road on a bike hurts the whole way to the top, but as long as you keep pedaling, the top continues to get closer.

I spent most of my ride around 5 or 7 other guys. Some of them finally pulled away, others dropped off the pace. The company of those guys, and the shared suffering kept me going. If they weren't going to give up, neither was I. It could just be me, but there is some kind of bond formed with the other people, these strangers, as we work are way up the mountain. At first, the feeling is that of out-climbing the others. It is, after all, a race. But after riding beside another person for several minutes, some brief snippets of conversation start to break out. Mark and I encouraged each other over the last 2 miles, we rode close together for nearly 3.5 miles. I didn't get his name until there was less than a mile to go.

The spectators at the finish provide an overwhelming emotional support. It's as if every racer is the loved one they are there to support. A race number may be all they have to cheer a rider on with, but it's enough. The cheering, clapping, and mentally willing the riders up the final slope. Strangers pushing strangers up the steepest part, when the last 7.6 miles had left them no strength to get up the taunting slope.

Getting to the top is enough for some. A life accomplishment, 'I didn't give up, I made it.' For others, it's a matter a making it within a goal time. For me, it was 1 hour, 20 minutes. I finished in 1 hour, 16 minutes, 7 seconds.

Photos here.

The final 9 minutes of the climb in the video below.

Finishing the Mt. Washington hill climb from Scott Frison on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2010 Wilderness 101

Let me just say that I'm pretty sure there was no way I had enough miles under my legs to finish a 101 mile mountain bike race with any kind of credible strength. I've been saying it for a month. Anyone that I told about the race, I also told that I was expecting at least a 10 hour finishing time.

So we flew down to Coburn, PA in the T-jet, err, drove in Taylor's Saab. We set up camp with the crew of Jake's friends from the Pittsburgh area, and after an adventure to find water we rolled out for a little spin on the bikes to check out the final few miles of the course. I'm glad we did, it rendered handy information during the race.

Upon returning from the ride we stopped by the campsite of some other people Jake knew from CT. After some arm twisting they convinced us to come back and help them finish off the food they'd made, chicken, pasta, and salad. I downed a bit of their food and had a healthy plateful of pasta and sauce that Jake's wife had sent along with us. I have to say, events that combine camping and mountain biking draw the most awesome people.

The Race:
We rolled out of the park and out of Coburn at about 7am and the riders immediately began to string out. We took advantage of space on the road and moved ourselves up, getting quite a bit closer to the front of the race, though not completely at the front. I saw Jake make the left hand turn at the bridge and figured it would the last I'd see him until the finish. Shortly there after, Lee, Chris, Taylor and I began ascending the first climb of the day. We held a comfortable pace over the top and proceeded into a dust cloud of a descent. I think I hit the max speed of the day bombing down that dirt road, my computer told me 38.5 mph. It was like one of those old racing games for Atari or early Nintendo, dodging from side to side of the road to work my way through groups of riders. Did I mention the dust fog?

The course was relatively unexciting for a little while, on the moderately rolling stuff we drafted with other groups of people, though I'm pretty sure our small posse ended up at the front doing most of the pulling in these groups. At one point, this one rider who I initially thought was a girl, but upon seeing them finish, may have actually been a guy, was messing with the feng shui of the group effort. I was a little annoyed with this rider and jumped to the front of the train and dropped some hammers in hopes of dropping them from the group. This wasn't level eight Bowser hammer throwing but enough that I thought shortly there after it may not have been such a good idea. I think we dropped the rider though, there were no more episodes of blasting up the middle of the group on a slight incline only to slow down and get in the way.

Anyhow, I digress. On the climbs we held a quick, but comfortable pace, and on flat to rolling stuff we did the drafting thing. Really groovy stuff, we were passing the miles pretty quickly. Aid station 1 came and went, we barely slowed for it, opting to start right into the climb leading out of the aid station. Then came the first major trail descent. It was an old jeep type road, wide, but the grass was so tall everywhere there was really only one line down the hill; where the trail was beat into the ground. I was ripping down this descent when I flew by Jake standing on the side of the trail, "Jake, WTF!?" I'm not really sure what he yelled back, I was too far gone and there was too much trail noise.

We popped out onto another dirt road climb. I pulled up to a singlespeeder and held pace as I checked back for my compatriots. They weren't too far back so I held my pace with this SS guy and had a little chat with him. Turns out he'd almost given up mountain biking after breaking too many derailleurs, but managed to stick with it after being introduced to the world of single speeds. Crazy. I was happy to make full use of my range of gears. Into another trail and a slow descent to the three bridges before yet another climb. At this point I didn't see the other three guys, but figured they weren't far behind. Following another ripping jeep road descent I latched onto two other guys until aid station 2.

In a short bit, Lee and Chris rolled in, then Taylor shortly after them. I just continued shoving food in my face while the took care of their needs. Once everyone was set we rolled out, 40-ish miles complete, and into possibly the longest climb of the day. We came upon a group of 3 or 4 guys on a small knoll before the real climb and I pulled in front of them as I stood up to stretch the legs, Lee, Chris, and Taylor just staying behind these guys. We got into the climb and I settled into a happy pace, swallowing up a rider from Sid's-NYC. Initially I just followed his wheel, but then he clearly pulled off to let me lead the effort. I obliged and continued on. Then I decided to check for my guys. I figured they were right behind me, but it turns out that the riders I heard behind were not them. I'd opened a gap by accident. After some thinking I decided to keep going with my pace, it was comfortable and I was passing riders, though Sid's-NYC kept hanging on my wheel. I sort pulled to the side once or twice to see if he'd pull through and lead the effort for a little while. No dice. Whatever man, I'm a climbing machine, at least for now. I figured I was going to blow up somewhere between aid station 3 and 4. So I didn't think too much of pulling away from my friends, they'd probably catch up after my implosion.

We finally crested the top of Greenlee Road, and I was thankful, or so I thought I was. It had been nearly 4 miles of constant climbing. I plunged into Croyle Run Trail. It was rougher than a corn cob. When I finally got to the bottom, I felt like I'd been thrown into a dryer for some tumbling action. Rarely is one so happy to be climbing again; at least climbing was smooth. More kidney beating followed down telephone trail. Peeling my fingers off the grips hurt like a son of a...

Into aid station 3. I still felt good, despite being roughed up. Coming Out of three was an immediate turn up Lower Sassafrass Trail, the long single track climb of the day. A little bit of a challenge, but really not that bad, at least when things are going well. Coming down the other side of the hill on Upper Sassafrass was steep, my butt was way behind the rear wheel. The rough and tumble was replaced with a dry, dusty, sandy trail which the rear wheel just skidded through with minimal slowing effect. At one point the trail turned right rather hard, followed by a hard left with a large tree in the apex of the left. I got around the right only to deem that I was headed for the tree. I turned hard into the side of the hill so I could stop. Standing there, it was clear that plenty of other people had been in a similar situation and just cut to the left of the tree in order to make the corner. On to the bottom and an extended section of cross country style singletrack, good stuff. I came across a berm in the trail that screamed jump, so I hit it since I was still feeling good and energized with about 60 miles out of the way.

My one and only cramp scare came when I popped out of the trail and turned up yet another hill. My right leg got all sorts of funny in various places in the quad and hamstring. I kind of shook the leg, rubbed it, and changed the gear into an easier cadence along with downing about half of my bottle of Gatorade. Luckily it went away within a minute or two without any need to stop pedaling.

Somewhere around mile 68 I popped out onto something that resembled civilization and some kind of major road. I say major since it had nice 5 or 6 foot shoulders on it. A half mile up that road was aid station 4. More food, a change of gloves, some lube onto the chain, and a little stretch of the hammies. Roll out of aid station 4 and into, wait for it, another long climb! Nearly the last major climb of the day though, so it was all good. Despite what seemed like a decent sized crowd at the aid station things were pretty thin climbing the hill. My stomach had been a little funky since about the same time the cramp scare came. I was still drinking but maybe not taking in the food as much as I'd been. I was still doing good though. Things changed over to rolling to slightly downhill just before mile 80, and this is where things got lonely so to speak. It was the last sighting I'd have of another rider for quite some time. As I worked my way down through yet more of a beating towards aid station 5, I was really starting to get a little annoyed with how many rocks were plastered all over the trail. Then I saw Kristy and Hollis standing off the trail, their cheers provided a little pick-me-up. I figured the aid station was close. I took a few more minutes of jackhammer torture and popped out onto a road. I then realize that aid station 5 was a few more miles down the road. "How the hell did they get that far up the trail," was all I could wonder the rest of the way into the aid station.

I arrived at the aid station, the lone rider for the volunteers to help. Despite a slightly irritated stomach I tried to put some snacks down the hatch. It was at this moment that I experienced a culinary mutant. In my effort to shovel food in my face, even as I jumped back on the bike, I had a bite of Snickers followed by a few wheat Pringles chips. What a flavor combination, I don't necessarily recommend it for your next dessert party. Trying to wash it down with fruit punch Gatorade added to the oddity.

So I'm leaving the final aid station, and the volunteers tell me, "Only 12 miles left." I replied, "Just a drop in the hat at this point." The real torture now began. The trail turned into boooooooooooooooooooring. Straight, flat rail trail nonsense. Easy on the body, but not nearly as entertaining. A couple miles of that finally ended as the road turned up into the final climb. I was doing good until the road turned steeper and kept torturing me with false summits. I was finally starting to crack. On the upside, once I got over this hill there wasn't far to go, I just had to keep the pedals turning. I finally pulled over the real summit, gave thanks and praise, and started down the other side.

I immediately started cursing again. Even though it was a dirt road and not ridiculous trail nonsense, it was still rough enough to really hurt after the beating that had already been handed down. The bottom finally arrived and there was much rejoicing. Angels sang and minstrels danced and played instruments. The short walk of hike-a-bike was less than cool, but I was close to the finish and I'd seen the trail from here on out, so it didn't bother me all that much. A little more rail trail ended with a super narrow foot bridge of which my handlebars barely squeezed between the railings. Despite my feeble state, I managed to not stuff my handlebars into the railing and send myself tumbling over the side. Off the bridge and into an old railroad tunnel. This was the second tunnel, actually. The first was longer and therefore much darker in the middle. I'd nearly come to a stop just because I couldn't see what I was riding, luckily it was smooth through the first tunnel. The second one had huge chunks of rock scattered about. It's a little difficult to see them in the dark with a blinding light coming from the other end of the tunnel. Luckily I managed to avoid any catastrophic collisions and came out of the tunnel unscathed.

I checked my watch. I had 4 to 6 minutes to make about a mile and a half back to town and still be sub-9 hours. If had hammers to throw, I'd have been throwing like Bowser in level 8, but there were none and I kept telling myself, "Pedal, pedal, pedal."

I pulled across the line, official finishing time, 8 hours, 57 minutes, 44 seconds. Way ahead of where I really thought I'd be. Granted, I walked around about as fast as the living dead and sat down like a rag doll for a solid two hours before I started to feel right, but I was happy to have held off cracking until 40 or 50 miles after I thought it would happen.

So to all those of whom I informed of my doubt, apparently less was more in this case. I'm pretty damn surprised myself to be honest. What'll happen next year? Eight and a half hours? Maybe I'll just quit while I'm ahead. Though, the thought of hanging out with some really great people again certainly has its draw. Who else would feed you food, ride some absurd distance in the woods with you, then party following the race with keg stands and all. Okay, I didn't witness the keg stands, and I only had about a half glass of the beer from the local brewery, I was somewhere close to passing out in my chair with most of the other people at our campsite.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Condensed Version

A lot has happened in the two months since my last post, I should really keep on top of this blogging thing, but I often find myself forgetting to get things written down. I'll try to bring it all up to speed with the condensed version of June and July.

Early June saw me out riding and starting to get stronger, only to take a significant hiatus with a trip to the Cancun region of Mexico with two of my friends. The trip was not the best for my training considering the swaths of all inclusive food and alcoholic beverages surrounding me. Regardless, it was rather nice to get out of the country for the second time this year, and it was quite relaxing. In true nature to my inability to sit still for very long, I essentially forced Mike and Derek into spending a day on an excursion. The highlight of the excursion, and likely of the trip, at least for me, was visiting the Mayan ruins at Coba and climbing the 40 meter tall pyramid. Pictures of the trip can be found here.

Back in the states I got back to riding, though not as ferociously as past summers have seen from me. I'm really trying to chill out and not have a mental burn out before the middle of cyclocross season. This closes June and brings in July.

Just as I was getting back on track, it was time for another trip. This time I headed for Newport News, VA to celebrate the marriage of my long time friend Todd and his now wife Kate. Congrats to the newly weds, two people certainly made for each other. It was a very enjoyable weekend with a great opportunity to see some people I had not seen in some time.

Back in Connecticut, I began to realize that I'd signed up for a ridiculously long race and it was sitting around 3 weeks away. My mileage was certainly not where it should be. I might note, that with the impending doom of the Wilderness 101 approaching this weekend, I'm pretty sure I still have not put in the hours required to survive this race without entering the initial stages of rhabdomyolysis.

With two weeks to go a few of us riding the 101 headed for an area just North of Poughkeepsie, NY for a 12 hour race. I had no intentions of racing for a full 12 hours, only to put in several hours of riding and call it a day when I felt I'd had enough. That's about what I did too; I rode for nearly 5 hours took a nice break, then put another lap in and called it a day.

So here I am, contemplating my life decisions and whether I'll actually be able to finish the 101. I should have a real good story after the coming weekend.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

We have lift off!!

A few weeks ago I took a little trip to Florida to watch something I've wanted to see for a long time, the launch of a space shuttle. With only three planned launches left including this one I was hoping to see, I knew I need to get there. It also works quite well that my brother lives relatively close to Cape Canaveral. I would have the opportunity to spend time with him and his family and meet up with my aunt and uncle and cousins that live in the area.

We headed for Titusville pretty early in the morning to find a place to park and watch the launch. We arrived nearly three and a half hours before the 2:20pm launch time, but it was none to early. People were already parking along the waterfront and staking their spots to watch. We found a great spot with a great view of the launch pad. Despite being 12 miles away, we could see the launch complex pretty clearly with the naked eye. I could see it really well with the super telephoto lens that I rented for my camera. It was just a matter of waiting for launch.

After waiting and waiting and waiting the launch was finally drawing very near. Fortunately it was a beautiful sunny afternoon so the chances of a cancelled launch were very slim. A few minutes before the launch a gentleman with a portable tv came over and stood near me. Now I knew exactly where the countdown was. Right on time, the cloud of smoke billowed from the launch pad. The moment was very surreal for me.

Shortly after the smoke appeared the shuttle could be seen lifting into the air. The sight was incredible!

I took a number of photos, of course. You can view them here.