Matthew Green's race reports

Monday, May 10, 2010

Making a statement!

Ok these blog posts are happening, even if they are a little on the late side. That being said, let's hit this one at full speed!

After figuring out that my race was in fact on Saturday, not Sunday as I expected on Friday afternoon when I had just committed to riding with Anthony makes for a pretty interesting sequence of events! So its Friday morning back at home, and I'm rolling out of the driveway on the road bike for a few hours on the road bike in some pretty nasty wind, but we'll ignore the wind for a second. Its BEAUTIFUL out, clear blue skied and in the mid 60's; It doesn't get much better than this as far as I'm concerned. Anthony and I knocked off about 40 miles together around the valley and enjoyed suffering a bit in the wind but were blessed with a tail wind down river road (this NEVER happens). Overall on the day I put in about 60 miles of riding and definitely rode a little harder than I should have, when you get two people that have been focusing on racing for the past few months that tends to happen!

After some food and stretching after getting off the bike I got my Darkside ready to rock for the race at Massasoit the following day. I had never raced there before, and had no idea what to expect. The bike was dialed in, and after some dinner I was in bed before you could bat an eye.

On Saturday morning I grabbed some breakfast, packed the car with my bike, a few sets of tires, and hit the road! After a few hours I got to Taunton and was at the race. After registering for the cat 1 race, and some extremely helpful parking lot schmoozing I decided to make a last minute tire swap, and mounted up some 10 year old Continental twisters. This decision, though probably unnecessary, was a very good one. The course in Massasoit state park is fast, is not incredibly technical, but it turned out that the rolling terrain and dry conditions suited me perfectly.

I lined up with the 19-29 cat 1's for the first time in over a year. After some weird looks from everybody because my stem was over an inch longer than theirs, and my handlebars a few inches narrower we were hearing the countdown and waiting for the whistle. The whistle blew and we were off! I clipped in and took off I was the first person down the 1/4 mile pavement section, and the firs into the woods. After the first section I continued to extend my lead for the duration of the race, and was racing to prove that I do not belong in the cat 1 field. My goal for the day was to catch up to the back end of the pro/open field and ride with them but until then I was going to have as much fun as possible!

Ok, so you all know the feeling, the perfect day where you have seemingly endless fitness, are super motivated, and you are bike is working perfectly; the day where the stars align and everything clicks. Well today was that day for me, by the end of the the first lap I had picked up 2 minutes on everybody, and had caught a few of the people that had gotten gassed early on in the open race.

I rode at a pretty steady pace for the remaining two laps, and for the duration of the race was doing everything I could to maximize fun without being a total idiot. I was putting up a good roost in some of the loose corners, doubling technical sections, and having a great bicycle ride!

At the end of the race I crossed the line about 3 minutes ahead of the rest of the field, and felt really good about what turned out to be a race for me, against myself more than anything. Races where you do a good 2/3rds of the race alone can be pretty difficult mentally. I think the biggest victory for today was a big mental victory, I proved to myself that I can ride by myself and keep driving and pushing harder even when there is nobody in sight, and nobody behind you breathing down your neck.

After I crossed the finish line, collected my bottles, and cooled down I had a great talk with Colt from Cycling Dirt. We did a post race interview, and he asked to do a Pro bike interview to check out the bike that I love so much!

Here are some links!

Here's a big thank you to Colt for making me feel popular on the internetz

Craig Mello took some really awesome pictures as well. Big thank you's here too!




Stick 'em up!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Farmington, the start of it all

This is the race that started it all for me, Farmington was my first bike race 5 years ago, On a 30 something pound K2 Lithium, not the bike for the job, but hell you have to start somewhere! Last year it was my first race in the Pro/Cat1/Open class; Winding trails isn’t a race I have ever had the best of luck at, but still plenty of sentimental value, and always a good time.
This year we were faced with perfect weather, mid 50’s for the day, blue skies, and tons of riders. Because of my stellar performance the previous weekend (and being a tad late to showing up to the line) I didn’t get the front row starting slot I was hoping for. The second row would have to do for today. Farmington is one of the faster races in the area, and I was ready to give put in my best effort to stick with the front runners from last week.
The whistle blew, and I felt like I got a very good start I narrowly missed a crash in the sand and entered the singletrack after the quarter mile of sandy slog to wide open double track inside the top ten and was moving comfortably. Once I got settled in the pack and started to get into a rhythm and get a feel for the pace my eyes started drying out and before I knew it my left contact lens had dried up and fallen out. (The same thing happened 3 years ago here, when am I going to start racing in sunglasses?) This setback was not something I really wanted to deal with, and even though it made the cornering pretty difficult, and I had the finesse of a bull after being surprised with a branding iron, I soldiered on.
I rode the majority of the race with Cary Fridrich, who was also sporting his swanky Darkside prototype. We stuck together for 3 laps, and had an awesome ride. The course was blazingly fast as expected and bone dry save for one totally unnecessary mud bog, seriously it was awful. But after racing Cross all fall I got the running down and was able to keep my bike which was perfectly suited for the course riding perfectly all day.
My buddy Jeff Lukach (Hit him up if you need a photographer, his pictures come out awesome, and he’s just out of college, take pity) took a couple great pictures of me running through ankle deep slop, awesome.


Despite the minor setbacks today I feel like I’m right on track for an awesome season on the bike, The darkside was the best tool for the job today, light 26er hardtails with semi slick tires can race with the fastest riders out there, even if I’m not quite there.

Early season bike races

Part 1:
After an unusually tame New-England winter cross country racing started off with a bang in Middlebury Ct at Hop Brook Dam. I have been doing this race for years, and it is one that I always look forward to; like all early season race it shows off who has been working hard over the winter, who has been slacking off, and gives everybody to catch up after the winter months. Fortunately I had a fairly full winter, playing off mother nature’s kindness in giving me enough days above freezing to get out on the bike; that along with some awesome days of downhill skiing had me ready to ride my super sick Darkside at shit break speed for 2 hours….AWESOME!
I got to the venue early Saturday morning with a car full of bicycles (Darkside, Skeletor, Dirt Crab, and Supertouch) got registered, schmoozed in the parking lot (as important if not more important than actual bike racing), and got warmed up. After warming up on the road bike I got to the line and was enjoying the great view of the water from the front row, I’ve never gotten a front row starting spot in one of the Pro/Cat 1/Open Root 66 races, and damn it I was determined to make good use of it!
The whistle blew and I was off like a rocket, got the hole shot, and motored on down the first straight off the front with about half the field in tow (I guess riding street paid off, sprinting around for hours with Mickey built some leg speed, HELL YEAH!) Unfortunately my time on the front didn’t last very long as I led about 8 other racers off course because of all the excitement, honestly it was too good to be true, and I didn’t really want to ride that fast. By the time I got back onto the course I lost about ten places. The first lap was over before I knew it, the course at hop brook is like your typical Connecticut race course, rocky, some mud holes, and plenty of climbing. I was able to hold a pretty smooth pace for the 4 lap race, felt pretty strong, and had a great time finishing just in the top ten. Not too bad for an early season race if you ask me!
After the race I got in a good cool down, got a fair bit of shit for running a good portion of the field of the course, and packed the car and made way to New Haven along with Chris and Mike from UVM for the Collegiate road races hosted by Yale (They had raced a time trial in the morning, the Mountain bike race in the afternoon, and were going to be lining up for the road race in two hours, DAMN!) We made it to New Haven in time for them to race on the road, and while they were racing I got to do some more parking lot and sideline schmoozing!
When the racing was over for the day I went to meet up with the Bowdoin College race team to pick up a jersey for tomorrow’s criterium, to check out their hotel room, to go get some AWESOME pizza, and went out for a night on the town with J.B. New Haven is awesome, Yale has a really awesome campus, and awesome people call the castle home for 10 months of the year. After a really long day, and night it was time to make the floor as comfortable as possible, I slept like a rock.
The following day I got to do my second road race ever, and naturally I was terrified, after seeing crashes at 20+ MPH all morning I was getting plenty spooked, and was playing with the idea of sidelining my the awesome Edge 68’s hanging from my Skeletor. I elected to keep the wheels on my bike, and suited up in Bowdoin kit and lined up. When we started off I got settled into the middle of the pack, and was riding comfortably, and felt safe. Just as I was getting the feel for the group somebody got a little loose after taking the inside line on the 4th corner of the 5 corner course. I got wrapped up with the 5 people that went down, and because I am an ignorant mountain biker I had no idea I could take what I hear is called a “free lap” and jump right back into the pack.
I spent the entire race working my ass off trying to get back the 40 seconds I lost in the crash. I got about 34 of the 40 seconds back (This made me really appreciate the blazingly fast Edge wheels) before I was pulled. 12 solo laps, that hurt like hell, and I’m hooked!
(Photo courtesy of Chatura Atapattu, I don’t think I know you, but you took some sweet ass pictures!)

All and all it was a great weekend of racing to kick off the race season, lessons were learned, the bikes rode better than I could Imagine, and bike racing in New England is alive and well! Oh did I mention that all 4 bikes I lugged around for the weekend are the best bikes I’ve ridden? Yeah they are, and these rest days are killing me!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Nationals Road Trip

Over the past few months me, and Nathan Pensler one of the awesome counselors from Coyote Hill Mountain bike camps have been planning a road trip out to Sol Vista in Granby Colorado for Nationals. After my race on Sunday at Dominarski farm, we packed up the car and trailer, then hit the road.
We left at 5:00 and made it to just outside buffalo, not too bad for the first day and keeping it right on schedule for out 2 1/2 days of expected travel time. That night we slept off the highway at a rest stop because 1. we were really tired, and 2. no camp sites were open at midnight. In the morning we woke up at 5:30 and hit the road after a few cups of coffee at the coolest rest stop thus far (we haven't stopped at the biggest truck stop in the world, saving that for the way home) this rest stop was was owned and operated by McDonalds, everything was yellow red and brown, and McDonalds branded, even the souvenirs!
After leaving the rest stop Nate drove for the next 9 hours and got just past the border into Illinois. After a quick stop at the local wal mart to get some quality time with the locals, and some killer heckling paraphernalia. After this quick stop we drove out of town, and made it into Iowa and found a camper park off the highway where we set up the tent, got bikes cleaned up from the weekend, and went on a quick road ride.
The next day started early, and was the most eventful, stressful, and most unpleasant day thus far. First off, what kind of road trip would be complete without some car issues? I mean something has to go wrong to throw a monkey wrench into your plans right?? We made it almost to Omaha, and while coming up one of the many rolling hills in this part of the country the car lost power, started shaking, and 5th gear was all but useless. We pulled off the highway, opened the hood, and took a look at the engine. The block was shaking about 2 inches in all directions at idle, and was making a lot of noise. After a few phone calls we found the nearest Saab dealer and were able to get the car to Omaha, to get the car to ride almost smoothly we had to run in either 3rd or 4th gear and keep the engine over 3000 rpm. After making it into Omaha we sat around for the next 4 hours only to find out that the #1 cylinder was getting no pressure, that my car was worth $500 (load of shit) and that it would cost over $1200 to diagnose the problem...oh and I dropped $120 to get a car wash and for them to plug my car into the computer, brilliant. After I had had enough of Huber Saab and Chevrolet, I told them to blow themselves, and to give me my car back so I could continue driving. We pulled out of the dealer, went to the nearest gas station, and filled up, after filling up we got back on the highway, I reached into my pocket and notice something is wallet...shit must have left it on the roof of the car....we got off the highway, made it back to the gas station, and began to re-trace our steps. We found the wallet on the highway, and after I pulled over, Nate got out of the car and was able to pull it out of the road! After getting my wallet, we noticed that my debit card, and my race license were missing! Both must have fallen out when the wallet was run over by many cars. Ok. enough stress for one day, we drove for another few hours and made it to a Mormon campground in the middle of Nebraska. We spent the night there, and ran into some locals that were camping next to us, the 3 of them were about our age, and after hanging out with them for a while we hit the hay for the night.
We woke up early the next morning, and continued limping on three cylinders towards Colorado, We made it into Colorado without much of a problem, getting about 9 mpg, filling up often, and just past the Colorado/Nebraska state line, we got a warning light saying the transmission was over heating...I guess 3000 rpm in 4th gear makes a lot of heat! We pulled over, opened the hood to let it breathe, and then the coolant fluid started spraying out of the coolant tank...yeah it was hot! We made a quick call to AAA and found out they would only tow the car (not the trailer...that was extra) for 7 miles...(um useless). We topped off the coolant fluid with water, and rolled the dice and continued towards Denver. After making it into the city and to R.E.I. to pick up some bike parts for Nate, we called it quits for the car. I limped to the Aquarium parking lot, and was able to get on the phone with Mike Shaw Saab in downtown Denver. They got me a tow truck, and we had the car (and trailer!) towed to the dealer, and had the car looked at. The people here were much more helpful, and pretty much bent over backwards to make sure our trip went as close to perfect as possible. I called my great aunt and Uncle Lou and Lois who live in Colorado Springs to ask for some help. Lou drove up to Denver with his truck to get the trailer, while Geoffrey at Mike Shaw Saab hooked me up with a courtesy rental car, even though I wasn't 21! (These guys are great!) Before leaving the dealer they told me my car would be done in two days, and we should be well on our way soon! After Uncle Lou got to Denver we hooked up the trailer to his truck, emptied my car, filled up the loaner (2008 95 sedan with 6000 miles on it....SWEET!) and drove to Colorado Springs.
Aunt Lois and Uncle Lou were awesome, they let us stay for 3 nights, gave us driving directions to some killer riding spots, and fed us while we were there...What more could one ask for???
After steaks at Texas Roadhouse, a great nights sleep, and a delicious breakfast we headed out to the Colorado Trail starting at Kenosha pass. We got to the trail head and met up with their son who gave us a little local knowledge and some advice on how far we should go. We rode the Colorado trail up over Kenosha pass down to the valley floor, and up to the top of Georgia pass to the Continental divide. The altitude was definitely a factor, especially in the first half hour, but after we settled into our own pace we were able to climb for the next hour and a half somewhat comfortably (Nate had a really hard time, someone has to lay off the hux and do some gut busting climbs!) We got to the top of Georgia pass, and turned around after some food and began the decent back into the valley. The trails here are nothing short of epic, with views that take any remaining air you have left in your lungs (the altitude takes most of it). The Colorado trail winds through stands of Aspens and fir trees, and brings you through above tree line basins, and is a ton of fun. We made our way down to the valley floor after a solid 40 minutes of descending (Nate was pretty wasted from the climb so he wasn't in top shredding form unfortunately). We began to make our climb back up the back side of Kenosha pass when my phone rang, it was the Saab dealer telling me my car would be done tomorrow afternoon!!! After waiting for Nate we got back to the car, packed up and went to R.E.I. to get some of the parts that hadn't come in yet.
That night we found some awesome mexican food in town, and had a really awesome dinner and were entertained by homeless guys looking for money to get hookers, people going bar hopping and looking for the best margaritas in town (I heard this was the spot...too bad I wasn't able to find out) and people shotgunning PBRs, great cap to an almost flawless day!
We got home, packed up the downhill bikes, and made plans to go tear up keystone the next day! We had a great nights sleep, were filled up with pancakes, courtesy of Lou and Lois, and drove out to keystone. We got there, Nate put his new brakes on his bike, and we hopped on the lift and took a few runs. The trails at Keystone are a ton of fun, making me wish I had more experience on a big bike, and leaving me terrified of drops, but with a big grin on my face from the rocks, fast singletrack, and flowing table top jumps all over the mountain. We did about 1300 feet of vertical for a half day of downhilling. Unfortunately my new Dh bike took a beating, one dented/cracked rim in the back, 2 lost chainring bolts, cassette rattling loose, and a front gotta break in the new bike!
We drove back to Denver, picked up my car, and then back too Colorado Springs. Good to have my car back, and she's ready for the rockies!!! Lou and Lois filled us up with dinner, we packed up the trailer, and got ready to head out the next morning to Vail.
We got up, were filled with eggs and toast and made way to Vail. We got into town, were almost immediately yelled at by a bus driver for going 20 mph in town (oooo speed limit 15!!!) And began searching amongst the rich people looking to see how much they can spend on a pair of jeans, sunglasses, and floppy hats for the parking lot. We parked our super awesome Spooky trailer next to the lesser Morewood trailer, and got ready for another half day of lift assisted single track shredding. Vail has some really fun steeps, some fast sweeping trails through aspens, some dust making contact lenses get a little foggy, and even though there are only 4 trails enough room to ensure you get a lot of awesome riding in. Unfortunately our day was ended short due to some thunder and lightning storms rolling in, just as I was getting comfortable on my bike, and Nate was figuring out the trails so he could ride them at like mach 12. Still a killer day!! We spent the night at a campground in the National Forest, and got our first real Colorado camping experience filled with everybody from local red necks, to some city folk out for the weekend.
I am writing this from an awesome hippy coffee shop near lake Dillon, and today we will be moving into our campsite were we will be staying for the next week!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

great weather, three great rides

Today I was faced with a very difficult decision; where to ride, my choices were earl's trails, bachelor street, mount tom and wendell...god life is rough.
I decided to do a pretty epic day of riding, and not force myself to choose. After class I headed to bachelor street for my first ride of the day, and had a great ride save for a flat tire (I can't wait to get the edge wheels set up tubeless) and some bugs. After bachelor street I went over to earl's trails for another hour of ride time. While at earl's trails my brakes were really getting annoying, so after checking them out I saw that the pads were worn all the way to the metal, that explains the noise! When I finished my ride at earl's trails I gave Mickey a call to find out how long my brake pads should be lasting, and to order up some new ones. After talking with Mickey, I headed over to Spooky bikes to drop off my bike, change some stickers, and to pick up Carl's bike so I could ride that and get a feeling for how it rides compared to my bike. While I was there I recruited Jake to ride with the Bob Crew in Wendell.
After I left Mickey's I went home to clean up the bike for Wendell later. From the driveway testing I noticed that the 6061 darkside was a lot like the mustang, quick, short, and very snappy. Dad and I headed up to Wendell at 6 to meet the crew at 6:20 at the ranger's station. When we got to the parking lot there were quite a few people there getting ready to ride including Jake, Stef, Shizna, Jason, Jamal, Mitch, Malley, and others. After I got my riding stuff on, Bob drove in and got everybody gathered up and told us the plan.
When we left the parking lot dad and I took most of the group out to the pond loop to start our ride, then to maple leaf, bob is fat, and then the main event....Mormon hollow. Mormon hollow since it was completed last year has been almost unbearable to ride, and very punishing. Somehow over the winter the trail transformed into one of the most fun trails in western mass! When we reached the bottom of Mormon hollow Jake, Jason, and I waited for the rest of the group and decided that we were going to climb Hannah Swarton, and then do Moose tracks, and the M&M for the second half of our ride.
We got back to the parking lot just as it was getting dark, what a great first wendell ride of the season!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pro race at farmington

After fighting a cold for about a week and a half, I finally started feeling well enough for race day in Farmington CT. The weather promised some intense heat, and the course promised a very fast pace and a true test of fitness. Mom Jeff and I drove down to Farmington just in time for Jeff to get registered, and figure out the Mustang before hitting the line. Unfortunately three crashes and a flat tire forced Jeff to drop out of his first Cat II race...better luck next time.
As two o'clock started to roll around I got ready to head over to the start line, checking that I had bottles, tube, tools, etc. I got over to the start line and got in the second row of pro riders figuring that I had no right to be in the first row. (Mistake number one) When the whistle blew my handlebars got tangled up in the riders next to me so I was pretty much the last rider off the line, not exactly what I was hoping for.
After my rather dismal start I was able to pick off a few riders before the first single track section, and get myself into the pack. The first lap was extremely fast, and the top riders got away from the group I was riding with very easily. In the second lap I dropped the riders in the group I had been with for the first lap in hopes to catch more people. During the second and third laps I picked off some people that had fallen off of the front group, and was finally able to settle into a smooth rhythm.
The fourth and fifth laps were pretty much a blur, and not much happened, save for the last quarter mile. In this chunk of the last lap I was able to catch up with one last rider, and after clawing my way up to his wheel, we went down just before the line he broke one of the spokes in my wheel, and I bent his front rim a little.
Overall I felt comfortable (as comfortable as racing allows) and strong through the whole race, and finished in 13th place of 21 riders that started, and was 12 minutes off of the lead. Each race is going to be a true test of both fitness, bike handling skills, and tactics (which I need to work on a lot), and this season I will learn a lot!