Saturday, March 2, 2013

Contesting ...

For the past couple of years, I've been an MTBNJ forum member (my username, shockingly, is 1speed ...) I joined up there after being a regular user of the Dirt Rag forums for a couple of years. That forum kind of died after a controversy led to a couple of regular posters being banned. They had a "politics" section and that led to some pretty passionate arguments where people sometimes crossed the line on acceptable behavior. I pretty much stayed away from that topic when I was there (never quite understood its place in a mountaibiking forum) but the result of the "bannings" seemed to be that a lot of the other users reacted negatively to what they felt was censorship and left of their own accord. And eventually, the number of posts dropped quite a bit and I guess the magazine made up their minds to discontinue it altogether. I hadn't used it in a year or so when that happened, so I can't say for sure exactly what led to that decision but I have to believe it had to do with a lack of interest.

Anyway, when I used that forum, it was usually to find out about places to ride, scheduled events, that sort of thing. So when it started to wane, I looked elsewhere and stumbled across MTBNJ. I grew up in central Jersey (Monmouth County) so it seemed like a good fit. And it's been all good so far -- I've met a bunch of great folks over there, ridden and raced with many of them, and learned a lot about different races to try, places to ride, training ideas, and even different beers to try (!)

Recently, after being off the bike and more or less a useless lump on the couch for a few weeks and facing a rough time in my first race that's coming up, I was kind of feeling at a loss as to how to get myself going. I knew I needed to get out and ride more and harder, but (being a jackass) I always do better when I a carrot is dangled in front of me.

Enter MTBNJ -- on Thursday, I got that carrot in the form of a month-long online race. And that was just what I needed.

Every winter, the folks over there crowd-source their motivation for off-season training by hosting an online race where they award points for number of rides, length of rides, etc. The site's official team also sponsors an early-season short-track series, but they were forced to cancel the series this season because of venue access (actually, it seems they've worked out venues for a few of the races now so it turns out the entire series won't be cancelled after all - definitely worth checking out if you want some early season challenges.) As a consolation, one of the regular users set up a mini-online race for the month of March. I don't usually participate in the winter-long race (and couldn't have this winter since I didn't have a Garmin between August and February) but this was a perfect way to ensure I'd make every effort to get out and ride as often as possible, so I signed up! And to make it a real challenge, I even signed up in the pro category, which means the number of miles I'll have to ride will be substantial just to stay in it. (And now that I have the new Garmin 510, I'm even able to prove I rode, too!)

The rules for the contest are pretty straightforward. Honestly, I could care less how it turns out. I have no idea if I can be competitive, but that's not the point anyway. Just being in the contest gives me motivation to push my training a little harder, and ride for a little longer more often this month. I've been out each of the last two days, and I'm really curious to see how many days I can ride this month.

Riding along Route 76 in Belmont ... apparently near Roosevelt Blvd.

Falls Bridge connect Wissahickon to Belmont

The trail was in pretty good shape today ... that's not something you can expect from every trail right now
Today was a pretty good ride ... I got out for 4 hours and about 33 miles between Wissahickon and Belmont. Total time the last two days is about 6 hours -- not too shabby. So far so good. I was really tired after today's ride, so I'll see how I feel tomorrow - because I'm going to ride again. And then hopefully Monday, too. We'll see how long I can stretch this. Like I said in my last post, time to hurt!


  1. I like the Falls Bridge picture!

  2. I think it is going to be a sloshy race for Sugar Hill my monocogging friend...It has been mushy down here the whole year so far.