Dressing for Snow.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9, 2017 by jimvreeland

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So. You just bought yourself one of those new fangled bicycles with the big tires, what now? Chances are this will be your first dabble in the wonderful world of snow riding. While some of the basics in staying warm and dry may carry over from the road or mountain, fat biking has it’s own unique take on things.

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First off, riding in the snow is hard work, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to stay warm. Layers are important. Start with something light as a base. Layer #1 should be a normal pair of bibs and a light LS base. Over that a standard SS Jersey. This SS Jersey will give you an area to stash food and bottles where they won’t freeze.

The next part of the outfit, and the most important IMO, is a good pair of waterproof pants. Snow is wet. Once you get wet too it’s game over. While something like the Specialized 686 pants may seem like they have a steep price tag, they’re worth every single penny. Even well below Zero Degrees, I’ve seldom worn anything but standard bib shorts underneath.

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Continue that theme up top with a waterproof shell. Get it one size too big so you have room to stash bottles in your jersey underneath. This system will get you down to around 20 degrees or so, I’ve run this down to -20ish. If you get cold easy add a thermal LS Jersey under the shell and you should be good to go. Everyone’s sensitivity to cold is different so experiment. Just make sure you don’t start sweating, the second you feel overheated strip a layer off!! A general rule of thumb is if you feel warm at the start of your ride, you’re overdressed.

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Your head. I’m out of the loop on this one, I just wear a cap no matter what and seldom cover my face. I guess if you don’t have a beard or wear glasses you can use a Balaclava?

I also prefer using Pogies on the bars instead of wearing gloves. Not only are Pogies a lot warmer and more comfortable, they also give you another warm area to stash snacks where they won’t freeze. YAY!!

Feet. I use 3 different set-ups depending on the temps, all with one pair of wool socks and a vapor layer. Specialized Defrosters above 20, 45NRTH Wolvhammers under 20, and 45NRTH Wolfgars under -20. Albeit at JayP’s I wore the Wolvhammers at -40 and was fine so I’ve never been able to use the Wolfgars. All of the shoes are 1 size too big. When it comes to feet, circulation is your best weapon, tripling up on socks and stuffing your foot in a shoe won’t end well.

 

That’s it!! Go ride in the snow!!

 

Fat Pursuit 2017

Posted in race reports on January 20, 2017 by jimvreeland
Fat Pursuit ’17
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This is my second year making an attempt at this monster race. This year would throw a new hurdle into the mix, temperatures I’ve never experienced. With a low of -40 and average temps hovering around -30 for the duration of the race, much of my prep was for naught.
I woke up early on Friday, just after 5am, part nerves, part east coast Time Zone. I knew I had to sleep but it just wasn’t happening. My plan was to Bivy on course early on. Whatevs. I packed up and headed down to Island Park for gear check and Pre-race meeting.
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After gear check I took a quick cruise around Island Park just to make sure my bike worked and take a look at trail conditions.
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Been through all this before so afterwards I booked back up to West Yellowstone to finish bike prep and take a quick nap. Nap. Yeah right. You try to sleep before this!!

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Made it back to Island Park about 30 minutes before race start. We had to have our pictures taken by the Salsa guy, that added some time I wasn’t ready for. Went pee and almost missed the start. If you watch the video on the Fat Pursuit FB Page of the 200-Mile start you can watch it. JayP yells at me, it’s pretty funny.
The start of these things is always fast. I have no idea why. Nervous energy maybe? Trail conditions were fast.

Not too far out the leaders made a wrong turn and missed the trail entrance. The correct route was only on the other side of a fence so we all threw our bikes over and fixed our mistake. I knew we missed it when we went by but figured they knew something I didn’t. Whatever, it’s a long race.
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As it got dark I got my next surprise, my main light was DOA. WTF? Second year digging through my saddle bag to make a fix before Harriman. My main light would now be a 300 Lumen Cateye run on low, 70 lumens, not good.
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Night rolled on and it kept getting colder and colder. I stopped en route to Mesa Falls to put on a face mask and extra layer. With the mask pulled all the way up to my eyes I had to put my glasses in my pocket, coupled with a low light, I was basically blind. The downhill to the falls was brutally cold. I shook violently the whole way. Dropped my bike and proceeded to hike to the candy pick-up. Again being blind I just went the same way as last year and missed the nice packed trail Jay made for us. I walked through knee-deep snow to get there, got my candy, and then noticed the packed trail with glow sticks. How the fuck did I miss that!!??
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The climb out of the falls is nice and steep. Sucks, but man it warmed me up quick!! It’s all downhill to Warm River Campground. Damn was it cold. I stopped to put on another layer and ditched my helmet in favor of a North Face wool hat and hood. The 2 pulled together so close there was only a slight opening for my eyes. The trail along the Warm River is my favorite part of the course. You’re high up on a ridge looking across a valley with the river way down below. Even in the dark the moonlight was bright enough to take in the awesome views.
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Warm River Campground is about 40 miles in and the start of the first long climb. It starts right out of the gate with a super steep section that you have to push the bike up. Last year I hated this section, but this year I was happy to push because I was warm. At -40 degrees without windchill, this is the coldest part of the course.
It was after Midnight, still climbing so the pace was terribly slow. I was tired, so damn tired. I needed to bivy or I wouldn’t make the night. I was also freezing so I wanted to push through until it got warmer. Not sure how many hours I battled trying to stay awake but eventually I collapsed on the bike and crashed. Bivying was now my only option. Freezing and tired I unrolled my bag and set-up camp. Crawled in boots and all. It was cold. So god damn cold. I violently shivered in the bag trying to rest. It wasn’t working, if I stayed here any longer I would freeze to death, moving was my only option.
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When I finally got my gear packed Jill Homer and Beat went by me. I walked with them for several hours, a bit surprised that these 2 Ultra-Endurace Legends were having the same issues with the cold as a Rookie like me. At some point they stopped and I continued on, switching between walking and riding. Either was the same speed but switching used different muscles. My knees were giving me issues due to the cold. My legs were warm but another layer would have been nice. All I wanted to do was sleep.
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The winds were fierce when I finally reached the top but I already had 4 layers on. All I could do is pray that I’d make it out intact. At this point I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the full distance. It felt like 1,000 miles of downhill. Shivering all the way with nothing to make it better. Never had I experienced anything so dire. In all this time I only now realized I haven’t eaten or drank anything since I started. My focus was so dialed on the bitter cold that nothing else mattered. At this point everything I brought was frozen solid anyway. Had to keep moving, or die. Not dying is pretty good motivation I learned.
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The sun came up and brought with it a slight relief of warmth. Being so cold for so long that sun felt like 100 degrees. It made the suffering bearable. I ate snow along the way to hydrate. Took in the views of huge pine trees for miles around. Wanted to take pictures on course but my phone was dead, a victim of the cold. I would not be a victim and would get out on my own.
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Not too far away from the first checkpoint now, something like 16 hours in, Derrick comes by me on a snowmobile. Jay sent out volunteers to see if everyone was OK. While I desperately wanted a ride back I told him to go ahead and see how the people behind me were doing, I would survive on my own.
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I made a left at the fork to the first checkpoint instead of a right. Heading back to the lodge, like so many in front of me had already done. The conditions took out so many of us. Hardened folks. Legends folded. I had no issues DNF’ing as a relative newcomer.
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After 19-hours I was back at the Lodge, some 80-miles after the start. Jay and Tracey were there to greet me. My beard was frozen into my face mask. They asked me questions but I was so out of it. I gave Jay the candy he made us get at the falls. I was the first one to turn it in.
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I had to run my face under hot water to melt the ice enough to take off my face mask, it was insane. I was smiling. I was ecstatic to make it as far as I did. I was surprised to see so many people back already.
Every one of these adventures comes with it’s own unique and unpredictable challenges. I’m disappointed as this will really hurt my chances of getting into the ITI, but the running joke of the event was that the ITI should be used as a qualifier for the Fat Pursuit. All of the ITI finishers, even those who have gone to Nome several times, scratched. In fact, many of them dropped long before I did. Getting through this hopefully counts for something, I feel like I learned a lot.
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As always it’s great to see Jay and Tracey. I’m very thankful for everything they’ve taught me, I’m already excited to try again next year!!
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This was also the first race I did without my iPod. Just to see if I could.
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Thanks to all of you that followed along. Hopefully I can inspire some of you to explore your limits a little bit. Go on an adventure!! Life is too short to make excuses.

The crash…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2009 by jimvreeland

During a standard base ride, my season took a turn for the worse. It was Monday, Freddy and I had just finished an 80-mile loop around Round Valley. He needed to get to work, I needed to get in a century, just like the day before. To get in the extra miles I decided to do the Hermes recovery loop through Piscataway and Rutgers. Some construction on River Road had the intersection across Hoes Lane busier than most days. I rode alongside traffic and went into the intersection. I took a quick peek back over my shoulder to make sure I wouldn’t get slammed by a “right-hook”. Mistake. My front wheel got snagged and lickity-split I was piledriven into the ground. With no time to get my arms out, my right shoulder took the entire blow. 25-0 in a space too small to read on my PowerTap file. I knocked the wind out of myself and struggled to drag my bike to the side of the road, where I laid in the grass, unable to move. As luck would have it, I crashed in front of a cop and he immediately called an ambulance. Sprinkle in some more luck as said ambulance would be in the traffic I’ve just created. I was on my way to Robert Wood in minutes.

After a slew of hot nurses cut my clothes off for X-Rays I was told I’d be staying for a while. Doctor after doctor came in to tell about their part of the mess. 5 broken ribs compressed my right lung, making breathing difficult at best. A slew of Ortho guys came in to explain a possible game-plan for my shattered shoulder. 3 broken bones, with my Humerous in 3 places. 1 of those places was inside my shoulder socket, I actually broke the head of my arm off through my shoulder blade. This isn’t gonna be fun!! I ended up in the trauma ward so they could keep an eye on my lung and await re-constructive surgery to get my shoulder back in one piece. They put me under on Wednesday night, 6+hours later the worst was behind me, from here on out I’d be on a single road to recovery. I’ve now got some rods and plates and screws holding me together, I hope to see an X-Ray of that on my first follow up. After a week in the hospital, I’d get the go ahead to make the trip back home!!

I’ve already seen tons of improvement in mobility since I’ve been home. My appetite is back and I’ve been getting myself into a daily routine. I’m trying not to think about the bike at all, it will be there waiting for me when I’m ready!! So that’s it for my race season…I’m looking to come back with a vengeance in ’10!!

-Jim.

Highbridge All-City XC…

Posted in race reports on June 7, 2009 by jimvreeland

Mountain bike racin in tha ghetto!!

Mountain bike racin' in tha ghetto!!

So this morning Chuck-E-Cheese and I headed into the NY of C for for mountain bike racin’ in the ghetto!! Well sorta ghetto. Ghetto compared to living in Piscataway anyway. I’ve been looking forward to this race since early in the season, I had so much fun last year I couldn’t wait to get back!! Jamie and crew of NYCMTB did a great job of throwing together a VERY challenging and extremely unique course. The loop starts on a steep paved climb, then dips into some uber technical rock gardens followed by some super-flowy fun singletrack before dumping you onto a sidewalk where you rip along a busy NYC street!! Then it’s into another tech section, onto a long paved section, down some stairs, more uphill pavement, UP some stairs, MORE UPHILL PAVEMENT, then back into the woods!! There was maybe 2 feet worth of trail to recover on!! OUCH!!

Photo by AnthonyCollinsPhoto.com

Photo by AnthonyCollinsPhoto.com

Right from the gun I knew this race was going to hurt. It was pretty hot and humid, I knew the pavement sections were gonna melt me!! I took the holeshot off the line and pushed hard up the 1st climb, I sat up just before we went into the woods because I didn’t want to blow myself up 2 minutes in. I went into the singletrack in 4th wheel or so. The group pretty much stayed together during the prologue and the first lap. I moved into 3rd wheel somewhere along the way and then focused on getting back onto Josh and the leader, who opened up a small gap on me. Saw 29er Crew team-mate Jason Hilimire with a mechanical early on too. Lap after lap I could see Josh just ahead of me but the course was so fast and I was already PINNED so I couldn’t seem to put in the effort to bridge. During lap #4 I realized he was starting to pull away a little more. F@CK!! HARD!! PAIN!! Soon after I started looking back to see where #4 was. Nowhere. On the long paved section you could see a long way back and there was no one around, we had a BIG gap on the rest of the field so I “sat-up” and enjoyed the rest of the race at tempo. I got to yell at the crack-heads and goof around when I passed the course marshalls. I crossed the line smiling, beaten, but smiling!! I wish they did more races like this!! 3rd place. I’ll take it. One spot better than last year!!

Photo by FullFramePro.com

Photo by FullFramePro.com

So the 29er Crew was out reppin’ hard!! We took 3 podium spots!! Thom Parsons got 3rd in Pro on a SingleFly, I got 3rd in Cat1 30-39, and Chris DeNoma got 1st in Cat2 SS. Matt Snow was leading his race until a flat put him back to 5th in Cat2 40-49. And Jason Hilimire had a mechanical that took him out all together, sucks!! Afterwards, a bunch of us got back some much needed calories by hitting Vegetarian’s Paradise 2 in the village. Mmmmmm. Crispy Soul. Vegan mashed potatoes. So good!! Thanks to Jamie and the NYCMTB crew for putting on a great race!! A big shout out to my homies at Gary Fisher, Ej at Crankskins, and Roger at FinKraft Coaching for all the support!! See you all next round!!

-Jim.

H2H#2-Tymor Park Challenge

Posted in race reports on May 17, 2009 by jimvreeland

Supah-Fly!! (Photo by Ilya Cantor)

Supah-Fly!! (Photo by Ilya Cantor)

Stop number two in the Campmor H2H Series would take us up to Tymor Park in LaGrangeville, NY. I like this course a lot because it has the most elevation in the series and has a bunch of different terrain types as you go around the course. I DNF’ed last year due to a poor tire choice so this time around I wasn’t going to goof around with my bike setup, it worked at Waywayanda!!

We racin son!! (Photo by Ilya Cantor)

We racin' son!! (Photo by Ilya Cantor)

I carpooled with Nick from DeathRow Velo and we overestimated our travel time by a LOT!! We ended up leaving the shop at 6am and got up to the venue before 8am. Early!! So we had plenty of time to kill. I was able to watch the beginner start, pre-ride before the sport race, work the feed station for my homies. The course was greasy and muddy. It rained hard the night before and didn’t have a lot of time to dry up. I only pre-rode the first section, I didn’t want to know what condition the big climb was in. There were also a few sections of the course that had mud and water running down the trail. Not again!!

The only dry section of trail!! (Photo by GT Luke)

The only dry section of trail!! (Photo by GT Luke)

My race went as good as I could hope for given the conditions of the trail. I knew we would be bunched up through the first section because the speed would be slower than normal. Conditions were slippery!! There was a small group of guys off the front but I could still see them and planned to make a bigger effort on the climb to get them back and/or go to the front. On the false flat fire road climb after the road crossing, I moved into 4th wheel. Once again I found myself surrounded by the Bulldog guys. Chris and Keith in front and Ryan just behind. Alistair from NYCMTB was in our group as well, at least for now!! The climb was super slick and we had to run about 1/2 of it. Getting some training for cyclocross in!! I don’t remember when I went by Keith, after a while it was all just a sloppy messy blur in there. I went around Chris at the end of lap#2 because he crashed and Alistair was long gone off the front!! The 3rd time up the big climb my legs started to give out, I could feel them wanting to cramp up when I pushed hard. I got off to walk the climb and Chris was riding so I let him by. I thought I would catch him on the top but I couldn’t close the gap he opened on me, my legs were SHOT!! I’d end up rolling through the line in 3rd. Podium#2. Mo’ trophies, mo’ money, no bitches though!! At the end of the day I just want to stay consistant and hopefully podium in the series overall. I’m very happy with how my fitness is coming along, this year I actually get to mix it up at the front of the pack and can at least be in the mix for a win. Thanks to Roger from FinKraft for that!! And of course I need to thank Fisher bikes, 3 guys on the podium were riding SuperFlys, including Alistair who took the win!! 29ers are taking over!! We get a little break in the series until June, but I’ll be heading to NYC for the HighBridge All-City race next. See you out there on the trails!!

Bling, bling. Holla!!

Bling, bling. Holla!!

-Jim.

H2H#1-Waywayanda Spring Cleaning

Posted in race reports on May 4, 2009 by jimvreeland

I have a love/hate relationship with Waywayanda. As much as I enjoy being in the rocks, this place gets kinda silly in a few spots and will get even the manliest of men to dab a line or 3, at least the last 2 years I’ve done this race. For ’09 the guys at Black Bear decided to reverse the course, which added a little climbing, but seemed to make the rocks easy-“er”. Tales from the interweb world of MTBNJ spoke of 50ish minute lap times, making for a nearly 3-hour long race, if it stays dry. It was starting to sound like a lot of pain and I was nervous the week prior, something I’m not known for. So Freddy and I hit up Chimney Rock during the week just to get some time in the rocks and dial in my bike a little. It ended up being a really fun shake-down ride and left me confident in my technical ability. Maybe it won’t be so bad? I did win here as a Sport rider in ’07. That’s gotta count for something right?

Photo by FullFramePro.com

Photo by FullFramePro.com

I awoke race morning to the sound of raindrops hitting my bedroom window. I had mixed emotions, in most cases I LOVE the rain and slop, but driving into Highland Park to meet Wolfie had me a little nervous about tire choice. Hutchinson Pythons. In wet, slippery, rocks and roots? Really? Nothing I could do about it now, maybe the rain will stay here and it’ll be fine up there. 70 degrees and sunny up there. Which it was. For a little while anyway!! The rain stayed away for the Cat3 and most of the Cat2 races. Freddy took the win in the SS class for MTBNJ with fellow 29er Crew-mate Chris DeNoma hot on his heels for second. Nick from Team DRV finished in the top-ten, a great ride considering it was only his second race ever!! Wolfie from the Rutgers Cycling Team made a valiant return to mountain bike racing and braved the slippery conditions to finish mid-pack, hopefully his spark is reignited and he’ll be back for more!!

Photo by GT Luke

Photo by GT Luke

The heavens opened up once the Cat1 field hit the line. This was gonna be a long slippery day. I got to start from the front row which always helps. The first bit was a long slightly uphill fireroad that really helped spread out the field a bit, nice. I think I was in 5th or so going into the woods. Gregg and Allistair were the first to make an attack and left me with the Bulldog twins, Keith and Chris. The 3 of us swapped posistions a bunch of times until eventually Chris went backwards and I was left with Keith. I would get him through the rocks and climbs and then he’d get me back everywhere else. The conditions were epic. Everything took effort. Wet rocks, greasy roots, the climbs were like butter, the rain was cold, it just started to hurt. After 2+ hours of racing we caught Alistair with 1/2 lap to go and now Keith had another Bulldog team-mate. I figured for sure they would try to kill me at some point, and they did, on one of the fire road sections, but they bobbled and I was able to get around both of them into 2nd. They tried one more time to get me but as Alistair tried to pass he hooked his bars in my shorts by accident and it cost him enough that I was able to establish a gap. I was running out of real estate quickly and figured Gregg was long gone at this point. A few turns later and I see a Westwood Velo kit in the distance. I HAD to close the gap. I hit the downhills brakeless and took TONS of risks to finally get on his wheel. I scared the living crap out of myself more than a few times!! I sat on him expecting a sprint once we hit the final fire road and I wanted to keep what little energy I had left in the tank for his attack. But it never came. I passed him in the last technical section before the fire road and rode alone to take my first Cat1 win!! My computer said 28.92 miles, 2:38:48 total time, 10.93 average speed. 26 minutes in zone 5, 115 minutes in 4, and whatever else the rest was. It hurt!! My first envelope filled with cash and pimpy medal made everything feel a whole lot better though!!

Photo by GT Luke

Photo by GT Luke

Thanks to Wolfie for being the most pro feeder-guy I’ve ever had!! Thanks to Gary Fisher for making the nimblest big-wheeler on the planet, it was definately an edge out there today!! Thanks to Ej from Crankskins for keeping my cranks unscathed through the boulders!! And thanks to Roger from FinKraft Coaching for making it possible for me to even attack 2.5 hours into a race!!

Gas money for the rest of the season!!

Gas money for the rest of the season!!

Next stop is Tymor Park, see you all there!!

-Jim.

Mary’s Land of Fair Hills and cupcakes!!

Posted in race reports on April 19, 2009 by jimvreeland

First race number of 09

First race number of '09

It’s that time of year again. Time to come out of hibernation and see if all those miles in the cold are gonna pay-off!! Me and Chucky from Team DeathRow Velo headed down to Maryland to hit the Fair Hills race. I wanted to get a freebie in before the H2H series opener in 2 weeks. Blow some of these off-season cobwebs out of the legs and lungs. But more imortantly, to get some super-ill cupcakes from SAS on the way out of town. We even stopped on the way in to make sure they’d be open after our race!!

The weather was perfect and the course was FAST!! We hit a warm-up lap during the Cat2 women’s race (very niiice) and planned for something around 30-32 minute lap times at pace. The SuperFly and new Bontrager RXXXL Carbon 29er wheelset (envy of the starting grid) felt DIALED!! With the lack of elevation or technical sections I knew I’d have my work cut out for me.

On the starting line my super dope wheels took some of my competitors focus away from getting ready to actually start!! I squeezed up to the front line for a perfect launch. When the gun went I was very surprised at how fast these guys actually went off the line, it felt like a ‘cross race!! I almost instantly went straight to the back of the pack. Shee-ot. Forgot about that part. No worries, plenty of singletrack ahead. I picked my way through to about mid-pack by the end of the first lap. The second lap we ran into lap traffic from the fileds that went off before us. I lost track of where I was in my own field and began the frustrating task of picking my way through the single-speeders. It seemed like there were millions of them. I came up on each one like they were stopped on the trail and would have to pass in the woods, or by taking some sketchy line. Thankfully by the end of my second lap I went by the single-speed leader and could finally pick it back up to race pace and continue on my chase. But, as frustrating as it may have been to be held up, I knew everyone in front of me had to do the same thing so, whatever. I could see a couple guys I knew were in my class. I went by a ton of guys on my third lap and felt like I was at least in the top ten or so. I ended up in exactly 10th place with a 1:34 race time, 3 minutes off race winner and Campmor killah Steve Mancuso. At least I got the first race out of the way!! I averaged 166bpm and 14 mph during the 21 miles of racing. Not too shabby for this early on. CUPCAKE TIME!!

I was good and only had 1, but it was oh so hard to choose!!

I was good and only had 1, but it was oh so hard to choose!!

See you out on the trails!!

Jim.