Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Superfly 100 Review

It may not be love at first ride, but it will end in LOVE
By Trek Mountain Girl
5out of 5

Superfly 100

I LOVE MY SUPERFLY! But it was not love at first ride for me. Since the Superfly doesn't come in a model designed specifically to fit women, I had to make some modifications. I swapped saddles for a women's specific saddle, and swapped the Bontrager Big Sweep handlebars for one more specific to my size and last but not least the Bontrager 29-2 tires that came on the bike were not suited for the Midwestern trails of mud, roots and large river rock, so I swapped them for knobbier tires and made them tubeless so I could ride with lower air pressure.
My favorite bike shop made all the changes possible and had me back on the trails in no time. If you ever make it to Edwardsville, Illinois, you should stop at The Cyclery and Fitness, I'm sure you would like it as much as I do.

I had to get over a learning curve going from Shimano to SRAM shifters, but now that I have gotten used to the push-push activation, I love it. The shifting is smooth, solid, and predictable. On my previous bike I had to 'feel my way' into the gear changes. With the new SRAM, I just click and it's there. This leaves me focusing on the trail and the competition instead of shifting.

My hands are pretty small so I really appreciated the adjustability of the Avid Elixir R hydraulic brakes to let me set up the reach from the handle to the bar so it was customized to my finger length and angle.

I got the Fox F29 fork and Fox Float RP-2 rear shock dialed in on air pressure so I float over trail obstacles without ever losing the feel of the trail. I love the 2-position pro-pedal option on the rear. I can let it soak up big bumps when bombing down hills or flick it to pro-pedal for more stability on climbs.

The frame is stiff in all the right places. I never feel flex when leaning into a tight turn or when really applying power to the pedals. I think the stiffness comes from the giant E2 head tube with the large diameter bottom bearing.

The 110/100 mm travel in the suspension is just right for the cross country racing and the adventure racing that I do. Any more length would just add extra weight, and any less would impact my comfort level (which gets to be very important in 24 hr races).

I am also happy that for the 2011 year Trek added some carbon armor on the down tube in front of the crank, and along the chain stay. Both of these areas are so easy to damage on the rocky trails in eastern, MO. I know mine have taken some good hits and there is no damage.

I know you are waiting to find out about my final thoughts on the Superfly. This is why I now LOVE my SUPERFLY in less technical terms.

1. It rolled over every rock and root, like they weren't even there.
2. I flew up and down the hills like I was riding the flat, it just rolled smooth as butter.
3. I never once felt the saddle, it was like I was sitting on air, thanks Andy!
4. The handle bars felt like they were made specifically for my build.
5. The tires grabbed the dirt and just took me where I wanted to go.
6. After banging the down tube on more rocks than I want to think about there was no damage to the bike.
7. With the float dialed in just right, my lower back was not sore at all.
8. My hands felt great because I wasn't reaching for the shifters and the brakes, they were right were they needed to be.
9. It was the bike that everyone told me it would be. I was almost too happy for words by the end of the ride.

So it might not have been Love at first ride, but it is definitely LOVE now.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Miles for Meso 5K

Have you ever worked really hard on a project and although the project is exciting, fun and makes you feel like you’re really accomplishing something, you still have a great feeling of relief when it’s over. That is exactly how I feel today, the day after the Miles for Meso 5K race was run in Alton Illinois. Even though it’s all over and I’m really glad to have it behind me, I’m already thinking about what our race team can do to make it an even better race next year.

For those you who don’t like reading, you might want to checkout my video blog, of course the book is always better than the movie, so maybe you want to read it first then see the movie.

The entire race from planning to finish in 15 minutes

I got involved with this race 3 years ago when my “all the time” friend and “sometimes” nemesis, Terry, asked me to help out with a new race that his friend John was starting. So after speaking to John I talked to my Metro Tri Club teammates about helping out, I got club approval and the rest is now history.

So Mike Wever the club president, Terry Eldridge and I became the race management team, working with the Simmons Firm to prepare for the race.

We had a fantastic group from Simmons, Theresa, Mark, Todd, and Greg ran with everything we asked them to do. Let me tell you this, we aren’t the easiest team to work with, we sent about a million emails and held tons of meetings leading up to race day, I know their heads had to be spinning trying to keep up with all the race tasks. We could have never pulled off this race without all their hard work.

After months of work, we made it to pre-race day setup on Friday. Terry and I knew that we were going need a lot of energy to make it through the next couple days, so we decided to get up early on Friday and go for a run on the infamous Pere Marquette Trail Run course. After eight miles of hills, we decided to carb up a bit before our day started.

That's a Beer in our hands, we only had one, so we had to share

As we headed to Terry’s house, for a shower, Terry noticed a missed call from Mike, he was picking up a couple elite women runners from the airport. So Terry called Mike back to tell him that we would meet him at race headquarters after we stopped at his house for a shower, but just as Terry tried to tell Mike that “no, we weren’t showering together”, he lost cell service, so Mike missed that part. We really got a good laugh though.

We made it to race headquarters at about 9:30 as Mike arrived at race headquarters with Stephanie Pezzullo and Megen Duwell who, by the way, happened to finish 1st and 4th respectively with only a 12 second time difference. We took a drive around the course so the girls could give us their feedback on it. On a side note, Megan had the cutest hair, I would love to have hair like hers. Sorry, got a little side tracked, back to the race. It also allowed me to shoot some video and pictures from the back of the truck, just to get a feel for how it would be on race day. We then finished as many tasks as we could before race day because we knew we would need every minute in the morning to get ready. By 3:30 we all headed home to hopefully get some sleep before the big day. Of course if you have ever been a race director you know that sleep would not come. I laid in bed going over everything in my head, the few times I did doze off, I had nightmares about things going wrong. Finally at 5 am, I got up and headed out the door. When I reached race headquarters it was still dark, as soon as daylight hit, the volunteers started showing up.

We had tons of volunteers and we needed every one of them. I think I hit the ground running from the first step out of my car and I’m not sure I stopped until about 11 am. I think I worked harder on race day than I did running Pere Marquette the day before.

I ran around, pulling last minute details together, helping Mike when he had his arms around too many tasks and getting ready for the best part of my entire job. I was the photographer who would be riding in the lead truck taking photos, and I pulled Rick to help me monitor the video. Here is the funny thing. Rick brought his daughter, who is an Edwardsville Cheerleader to the race to volunteer and he got roped into working himself. A big thanks to Rick for stepping up when I needed him.

It was finally time to start the race, I was in the back of the truck in front of the runners, taking a few test shots, I got shots of the bikers who would lead us out and a few of the spectators waiting anxiously for the race to start.

The gun went off and the race started, and it started fast. The men were racing in a tight pack and it stayed together for a really long time, it really made for an exciting race to watch. I was standing in Todd’s truck with most of my body sticking out the sunroof, and there is nothing on the roof of the truck to hang onto to, so when we hit the first corner, I went sliding to the side, it’s just a really good thing that my driver, Andy, thought quick and grabbed my legs to hold me down. He was steering with one arm and hanging onto me with the other. So every corner, he would yell corner and grab my legs. I am so grateful that I had such a great driver. I’m kind of thinking he may have been in the witness protection program though, maybe he was a get-a-way driver or something.

Oh boy I have to tell you this story, you see I took Andy out on a course drive before the race started to make sure he knew the course. Now I have been over this course for what seems to be a million times, but when we were driving it, I kept missing the turns. He looked at me, like I must be a real goof, I couldn't even guide him around the course and I'm a race director. And this is even funnier, you see, in 2011 me and my ROCK Racing teammate Chuck were ranked 4th in North America in adventure racing, you know where you go out in the woods and search for checkpoints with a map and compass for hundreds of miles. I know, right, how can this be, I guess all I really have to say is that it's a good thing I have Chuck or I would be lost in the woods right now.

Once again my mind wondered, let me get back to the race. I did get some really great photos of the Elite men and I also got smacked in the head by some tree branches, but don’t worry I have a pretty hard head so there was no damage.

Jeff Schleicher was also on the course getting great photos of the elite women. The women's race was really exciting, Stephanie Pezzullo was leading the race almost to the finish, while Tonya Nero was gaining her, then to Stephanie's surprise, Tonya ran up next to her, so Stephanie pulled out all the stops and sprinted to the finish, winning by just a few seconds and collapsing at the finish line. Lucky for her Terry was ready to help and instantly got to her and started massaging her legs, that is until the real medical people showed up and pushed him to the side. Boy, does Terry have a good story to tell, when Stephanie makes it to the Olympics, I'm sure Terry will be telling the story about how he rubbed her legs once.

Oh sorry, I got side tracked thinking about the smile on Terry's face after that leg rub thing, so back to the men's race. On the last corner heading up to the finish line we almost got caught by Julius Koskei, who won the race. Andy hit the gas and took us to the finish where we jumped out and watched the incredible finish by Julius in 13:48, I still can’t figure out how a guy can run that fast. Rick ran the clock off the back of the truck over to the 2K finish line then finished shooting video. I hung out at the finish line long enough to see the elite women finish and then see Stephen Pifer, the 4th place finisher in the US 5K Road Race Nationals, and John Roth finish. John got the opportunity to run the race with Stephen, who helped John run a PR. Greg won the silent auction and let John run with Stephen for him. Great Job John, you made our club proud. Thanks to Stephen for coming out and helping us raise money for such a good cause.

I ran over to check on the Kids Zone, where the Edwardsville Varsity Cheerleaders were working and I think they were having as much fun as the kids were.

Before I knew it, it was time for the awards ceremony. We handed out awards, while only making a few mistakes, like forgetting to give out the Clydesdale category awards, but we caught our mistake before it was too late and gave them out. Those guys deserved those awards, they had some really fast times.

The best part of all of the awards was when a Meso survivor placed in her age group, what a perfect ending to a great event.

Todd, Terry and I stopped for a quick breather during cleanup then we headed to the roof for lunch and to converse about the race. It’s not enough to just be there, you also have to discuss it for the next two weeks, it’s funny, but I find myself still thinking about it and discussing it, even when it’s over. We want to hold an even better event next year.

Let’s not forget why we were here, the most important part of the entire event, 25,000 dollars was raised for Meso Research, this is what makes all our work worth while.

So the race was over and before we could even get a good picture the race team started to fade away.

Don’t worry, we will be back next year. One last thing, a big THANKS to everyone who made this event such a success, we could not have done it without the volunteers.

And to John Simmons, Thanks for your vision that started it all.

See you all next year.

You can checkout the photos from the Elite Men’s race on Flickr, I would say they are really good, almost professional and I'm not saying that because I took them, well maybe I am.

A view of the Elite Men's race in 5 minutes

Miles for Meso 5K Men's Elite Race

The Men's Elite Race in 5 minutes!

Full Race Report coming soon, you won't want to miss it!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Litchfield Triathlon 2011

You see it was a nice cool morning, so cool, that the 72 degree water at Lake Lou Yeager was warm compared to the air. So the Litchfield triathlon started out with a bit of a brisk wakeup call. The water was cold enough to be wetsuit legal, but since I was doing the Sprint race, I thought that I could buck it up for 400 meters, I was right, the water wasn’t really bad at all. I mean after getting hit and kicked a few times, then getting my goggles kicked off and treading water while getting them back on and then sucking in some gasoline fumes from a idling boat, the cold water didn’t seem that bad at all. In fact I looked at my time as I ran out of the water and was pleasantly surprised, it was 9:57, I know, right, that looks like a bad time, but for me that is a really good 400 meter swim time. I was pretty darn happy.

As I ran across the beach, I heard a couple “Go Robin’s”, one was from Alan an old college mate, his wife Rhonda was competing in the Olympic distance race. I didn’t see who the others cheering me on were, but I heard them, and I have to say Thanks. It gives me such a boost when I hear people cheering for me during a race, it makes me want to make them proud.

I wish I could say that I cleared transition quickly, but really I’m not sure what I was doing in there, I must have been kicking back and relaxing, because it seemed like it took 10 minutes to get out on the bike, it wasn’t really that long, but it sure felt like it. Finally I hit the bike mount line and was out on the road. I was riding my Pinarello FT1, it’s a super-fast bike, the only problem is, my body can’t seem to live up to the bike.

As I pushed up the hill, I started passing people, this wasn’t a very big race, so there weren’t hundreds of people to pass, but still enough to start chasing. I passed 4 people right off the bat while I was trying to get into a zone. Then I kept passing, I got passed by one guy then a girl. I chased the girl and we changed places 6 or 7 times throughout the bike, she finally dropped me after we turned back into the wind for the last 4 miles of the bike. The bike was an out and back and after I made the turn, I saw a lot of friends who cheered me on as they came by on the other side of the road heading for the turn around. With about a half mile to go, Herbie, an old friend’s brother, who I hadn’t seen in years, caught up to me, as he rode past me, he said “hey good looking” I really think I might have been in love! Well that is until he passed me and hit transition right in front of me, I don’t think I love him anymore.

Into transition I went and at least this time, I didn’t sit down and have a spot of tea, I was actually in and out of transition in about a minute.

Right out of transition onto the run, I headed up a hill that went on for about a half mile, then it made a turn and went downhill for about a mile. See this sounds really good doesn’t it, 1 mile of downhill, haha, don’t even think it, the run course was also an out and back, so at the turn around, I had to run uphill for a mile and uphills are not my strength. As I made the turn at the halfway point I saw a Metro Tri Club teammate of mine, Gary, and I knew he would be passing me soon, I know what a fast runner Gary is, so when he passed, which wasn’t too long after I saw him, I asked him to pull me in, well Gary was not very helpful, he just ran off without looking back, I don’t blame him, I didn’t want to drag my trunk full of junk up that hill either. I also saw Russ, a new club member and a first time triathlete, oh my gosh, he was moving, even though I had a pretty good lead on him, I was thinking he might just pass me if he keeps up that pace. I also saw Herbie again, and even though I had fallen out of love with him, I was glad to see he looked so strong, I think he was really having a good race.

I made the corner and headed downhill for a half mile to make the last turn into a 200 meter uphill to the finish. I hit the finish line feeling way better than I should have, just goes to show you I could have gone harder. I guess since I am in such crappy shape right now, I held back some in fear of bonking before the end of the race. Rookie mistake, I should know better than to hold back, but in my defense, my mojo has been off since Monday when my supposed teammate, Chuck, talked me into signing up for Ironman Wisconsin. Well that is the excuse I’m using anyway. My time didn’t suck though, it just wasn’t near my best.

After I finished I turned around to see Russ finishing only about 20 seconds behind me, he had a great race and as it turns out, he won his age group, not bad for his first sprint triathlon. Just a couple minutes behind Russ, Herbie came in, he looked really strong, by next season he will be kicking my butt. Then I turned around to see that Russ and I had a cheering section. Russ’s wife Andrea, brought my daughter China and her and Russ’s daughter Madison out to cheer. They had made some signs to cheer us on, but the funny part was they showed up just as we finished the race. We need to get a more punctual cheering section.

Russ reenacted part of the race for the girls and I showed off my muscles.

The girls took a picture of the some of the zillas, we were missing one Rhonda, she was competing in the longer race, so she was still out on the course.

I also ran into a friend from work, Mike, that I didn’t know had started competing in triathlons. This was his first Olympic distance tri, so China and I hung out to take a few pictures of his finish, he finished looking really great, now I have to deal with yet another guy that’s going to start beating me next season.

Oh and I have to tell you this, as I was racking my bike before the race, a guy near me said “hey I read your blog all the time”, I thought wow that is so cool, I got recognized from my blog. He was doing the Olympic race, I saw him again after the race, and he had a smoking fast time. I asked his name, it was Robert, so next time I see him, I can say, did you see my shout out to you in the blog.

I had a good swim, an ok bike and ok run, I think I could have worked harder on the run, I guess I will have to come back next year to redeem myself.

One last thing, a BIG THANKS to the city of Litchfield, all the volunteers and the race management crew who brought us this race. This was a very well managed race with a well-marked course and great volunteers working the race. As fellow race director, I know what goes on behind the scenes to pull off a great race, and you guys have it right.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Miles for Meso

Come Join Us for one of the Greatest Races in the Midwest.

You can run with the Pro's, that will for sure give you bragging rights.

Bring your family and friends, this is an event you don't want to miss!

All proceeds fund Meso Research

Click here for registration and more information

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Council Bluffs

Having a little fun at Council Bluffs on Friday night, I can't think of a better way to spend a Friday night.

We did a little bear hunting, Mike and I planned to feed Chuck to him, but the truth is, that bear would certainly want me over Chuck, I have way more meat on my bones.

But after spending some time in the dark, and a few honey stinger waffles we all made it out alive.