Monday, October 19, 2009

A week of firsts

Yesterday I saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I was in a true West Coast city for the first time (San Francisco). I saw Chicago and Lake Michigan for the first time. Friday, I competed in my first ever National Championship (Collegiate Mtn Bike). It may have been my first race in which I got pulled out by an Official. Thursday I stood at the edge of Lake Tahoe for the first time. Late Wednesday night I landed in Reno, Nevada, making it my first time West of the Rockies.

All in all, this past long weekend has been a flurry of new experiences. I traveled with three others to represent Penn State at the National mountain bike championship in Truckee, California. I only raced the XC race on Friday. It was rather disappointing to be whistled off the course after completing only two of the four 7.5 mile laps. The officials did this to about half the racers to prevent us from being lapped. Having flown across the country to race this event, I thought that it was absurd that I wasn't able to continue on. It is even more upsetting to see the results posted incorrectly. I'm placed behind riders that only completed one lap and who were physically behind me on most of that first lap. It is disheartening to be an entry level USA Cycling Official myself and see people with more experience than me not only cheat racers like me out of being able to finish a once in a lifetime race, but also botch the results, which should've been easier to calculate by pulling people. I think I'm going to take a lengthy break from any USAC events. This race has left me bitter.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

5 years and yesterday.

Five Years ago today, I walked up a mountain, just as I did almost every day in the six months prior to then. It's been five years since I finished the Appalachian Trail. With friends I made in Georgia, I climbed Katahdin in Maine. It's been five years, but it's still fresh in my mind...

Looking forward to reminiscing with some of those friends in a couple weeks. Two friends, two thru-hikers, Travis and Casey are getting married in Tifton, Georgia. Can't wait.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Autographs upon request.

You may stumble upon this picture in either a Dirt Rag or Mountain Bike Magazine. Yeah...that's me.

To my surprise, the pictures that my friend Abe took of me while riding at the new Allegrippis trails at Raystown Lake are now being used in advertisements for the trails.

So what if you can't tell it's me?!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

101 Pictures

Tom, Eric, and Jeff brought the lady CoCo out for good luck.

Me, rolling down Beautiful Trail, across the river, and at Three Bridges.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

10 hrs 5 min

Yesterday I spent 10 hours and a five minutes mountain biking. My ass hurts. My finishing time is nearly 3 hours faster than last year and just a few minutes over my goal. I'm happy. Don't have much energy yet for a full race report. More soon...

Thanks to Abe for this sweet photo!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stoopid ain't so stupid no more.

State College mountain bikers are a-buzzing this week. The first of the two summer endurance events(the Stoopid 50 and Wilderness 101) that have shown outsiders our extensive network of trails, is this weekend. But its not the same. Nowhere near the same. I never raced the original Stoopid 50 course, but I know stupid, and the 09 course ain't that bad. In fact, once I saw the map, I realized that I've left my front door and rode out to Rothrock to do a very similar ride last fall. It hurt, but was actually quite a reasonable ride.

Here are a few definitions for the word stupid:

stu⋅pid [stoo-pid] –adjective

1. lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind; dull.
2. characterized by or proceeding from mental dullness; foolish; senseless: a stupid question.
3. tediously dull, esp. due to lack of meaning or sense; inane; pointless: a stupid party.
4. annoying or irritating; troublesome: Turn off that stupid radio.
5. in a state of stupor; stupefied: stupid from fatigue.
6. Slang. excellent; terrific.

Since there seems to be mostly fire roads used for this years course, number 1 and 3 might make sense. Haven ridden most everything included in the course, I think we can eliminate #6. Hopefully, since I'm racing it, #4 won't be a reality. I think #2 is the most common use of the word and probably what the name is referring to. In years past, the course included such senseless, seemingly foolish features as a 15 minute walk up a mountain with your bike. You know, something that makes you go "Man, this is stupid!". This year there's none of that. Hell, all the hills this year even a single-speeder can ride up! (Thickhead Mtn Rd would require some grunting though).

Now, don't get me wrong. This will likely turn out to be an enjoyable day on the saddle. I just don't think it's all that stupid anymore.

Hm. Maybe I have a problem then...

Check out the Bikereg page here for more info and a map.

NYCMTB All City Classic - Race report

So yes, I got third, but here's a more substantial race report:

All weekend I was stressing about driving into the city. I've never driven into NYC before and generally get nervous driving in urban areas. Much to my surprise, it was quite easy; especially at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning. We got there with plenty of time to spare. I wasn't able to pre-ride the course, but I got a decent warm up in.

The course (pictured below) began with a long paved hill that failed to stretch the single-speeders out much at all. I got the hole-shot at the top when the course turned to single-track. I lost my first place position all of ten feet into the trail section when my super-reliable(up to this point) tubeless front-tire flatted. All 8 other single-speeders passed right by. I just burped all the air out on a rocky section I was not expecting. The course was hard! I was not expecting it to be so technical. After I fumbled around with my front wheel, wasted my CO2 canister, borrowed a pump from some kid with a broken derailleur hanger, and started riding again, I figured I was well out of contention. I chose to keep riding, enjoy the day, and get my money's worth.

If you look at the map below, all the tight twisty stuff on the right are the trails. The long straight stretches on the left, under the logos, are either sidewalk or dirt roads. We did three and a half laps. By the time I did a full lap and got back to the trail sections, I began wondering if I could catch up. I started passing people. The last two laps I passed 4 people, but thought I passed three, and didn't account for 2 people dropping out. So we left soon after I finished, not thinking that I actually got third. I was a little over a minute from second place.

Oh well, at least they listed my name for the Cat 2 SS podium in the NYCMTB race report.

Downsides to the race:
-tons of broken glass
-even more poison ivy
-mud you don't want to get in your mouth

-challenging trails with some neat features
-friendly, cheering marshals
-scenic stretch next to river
-absolutely unique experience

Definitely going back next year.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Take that!

No one can call me a sandbagger now! I am now a Cat 1 mountain biker. Yesterday in NYC, in my seventh ever mountain bike race, I took 3rd (after I spent a while fixing a flat). That result, and a third place finish in the fall, allowed me to upgrade. Essentially, all this means is that I'll be riding longer distances when I race. It also means that I can race at the highest level for collegiate mountain biking AND, just maybe, I'll go to Collegiate Mtn Nationals out in California this fall...maybe.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Old race pics - Marysville 4hr 4person relay - Team FTC

This race was back in April. Thanks Tim(bottom pic) for finding these . We were all riding really solid laps on this super muddy course. Since we registered as all 21 year olds, we didn't get the handicap we should've. Oh well, it was a fun event regardless. Everyone loved the FTC kits.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Next Mtb race

Highbridge All-City 2009 XC MTB Race teaser from Jamie Bogner on Vimeo.

It's been a while. I've been busy with Won my first race ever in April. Once I find my memory card USB port thingy, I'll put up some race pictures. I'm starting at the track next weekend. The weekend after that I'm doing this here race in NYC. I'm stoked; it looks a like good time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why travel?

Ran posted the other day about this interview. Steves is dead-on, question after question. I especially like this one:

"So if McCain and Palin had won, what would we have seen abroad?

More and more Americans wearing Canadian flags."

Also, the idea of traveling before you vote should be mandatory. Across the border at Niagara Falls doesn't count. Get a passport and leave for a little.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

plateau: extended

There is a great myth about life reaching a plateau. You go through childhood, create memories that are mostly fiction but hold your identity up like marionette strings. You make your mistakes, or painfully pass through your teenage years. You enter into adulthood only according to law, because you spend the rest of your life searching for it. Maybe you go to college, make more mistakes, meet people as brainwashed as you, and tell yourself that you are on the right track. Whether it is right after high school, or you prolong the engagement by going to college, you enter into the "work force" with the idea of a "career". Here you have reached a plateau; by this point you should have “grown-up”. You have climbed your way up, paid your dues (dug yourself into debt), and life is flat for once. You work the rest of your life until you die. You buy a house, build a family, and go through life changing only in age. Education and learning is behind you. Personal growth is suspended as you try to remember your childhood to help you raise your children.

This plateau does not exist. Growth is not reserved for children and adolescence. Education is NOT a means to an end. It is a life long endeavor (if you allow it to be). It is not defined by pieces of paper that hang on your walls or the high-paying job you land, but by how you interact with the world. What is really sad is seeing what happens when someone believes this myth. Thirty-years later, laid off from the career that was supposed to take him to the end, he finds himself lost in a landscape full of mountains and he's at the bottom again.

Ever since middle school, I have had an issue with this misconception. I never wanted to believe it. I would sit in class gazing out the window, dreaming of a time when I would no longer be spoon fed this regimented ideology about life. I did this especially in the honors classes. What I looked forward to took the shape of a goal: after high school graduation I intended to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, Georgia to Maine. All the way through high school I held onto this goal. It was going to be my way out. I wanted to escape. Senior year, as my peers experienced stress applying to colleges and attempting to determine the course of the rest of their lives, stresses they neither understood or were prepared for, I had peace of mind. I knew what I wanted to do. My life after the trail would be determined after the trail.

Somehow I was able to push past the guidance counselors, the grandparents, even my friends, who thought postponing college (or, gasp, not going at all) was an ill-advised idea. I was supposed to be deciding on a career, getting serious about my life, getting on a path towards professionalism. I held firm to my plan, even though I really did not know what I was getting myself into. I wanted the trail to be an escape from people and responsibility. I thought I needed time alone.

It turned out that what I wanted was neither what I really needed or what I ultimately received. I did indeed follow through with hiking the trail. After a year of doing stone work to safe money, I headed down to Georgia with a pack and my doubts. It was nothing like I expected. Instead of escaping from people and responsibility, the six months backpacking only brought me closer to them. A cross-cut through the Eastern United States, the A.T. experience is a cross-section of American counter-culture. Among the many lessons learned, my doubts about life reaching a plateau were fortified. I did not encounter a swathe of hopeless hippies; at least not entirely. Most of my fellow hikers were older; some with children, many defining themselves by a career. The ages ranged from eleven (a son, thru-hiking with his family) to seventy. Seeing such a variety of people sharing in an experience outside of the standard ant-like lifestyle confirmed to me that life really doesn’t need to be so ordered.

Those six months, five years ago, still define my decisions and my outlook on life. My introspective tendencies were thrown into countless fire-side conversations and walking wonderings. When it came time to return to school, taking up Philosophy as my major seemed like a logical progression. It is a degree where the expected career is as ambiguous at graduation as it is freshman year. I would like to think that my time on the trail helps me be comfortable with that fact. I do not expect a plateau. I may graduate this year, but my education continues.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A nice gesture.

Me** in ECCC Championship Crit, Hanover, NH, 2008. My best/last road race. Photo: LAW

I recently gifted my beloved road frame (seen above) to a good friend. This leaves me without a road bike to compete in my last (hopefully) collegiate road season. I fully understood this consequence when I pieced it out. My interest in road cycling has been greatly overshadowed by my enjoyment of mountain and cross riding anyway. I had fun racing road and was even getting competitive. I just appreciate the laid-back atmosphere/mentality of racing with knobby tires more.

A friend I made through racing road, from another team, just found out about my situation (sans road bike). We competed together the past two years and he even stayed at my house for several cycling related events. Last year, after moving up a category, he told me he missed racing with me. Now, with the prospect of not seeing me at the races at all, he offered me not only his old bike, but his brothers too! Here's an excerpt from an email he sent me (I told him that I planned on becoming an official):

"after much thought, i've decided if your interested, the orange cannondale caad 7 i raced last year is yours for the collegiate season- that bike is just too good to be sitting in my closet as a backup bike for the season, just as your too good a racer to have on the sideline officiating."

I respectfully declined and was quite flattered. Thanks Lenny!

**special note: pink shorts with Nicole on side are indeed PSU shorts. Nicole was a scholarship fund named after Nicole Reinhart, accomplished cyclist who died while racing. Pink and black are original Penn State colors.