• Several TeamHalfwayThere squads raced USARA Nationals 2014 in Deep Creek, MD

  • Michelle paddle-boards class-III whitewater at USARA Nationals 2014

  • Bev and John plot their night orienteering strategy at USARA Nationals 2014

  • Check out our latest clinic on Stan's NoTubes!

  • Stan's NoTubes, Pocketfuel, and The Right Stuff are just 3 of our many proud sponsors!

From the monthly archives: June 2014

by Paul Ruchlin The snow was angry that day, my friends…. The official name was SNOTCYCLE. It could just have easily been called SNOWCYCLE, or SLICKCYCLE, or SLIDECYCLE, or ICECYCLE….. stan smith adidas dames See where I’m going with this? Start time temperature was 22 degrees. Who knew I’d somehow driven to Green Bay for a mountain bike race. Nike air max 1 pas cher Being held out in Leesburg, there was still a good 6 inches of snow covering the ground, trails and all. Luckily, there were only slight gusts of a breeze every now and then, because it was certainly chill enough without. Dressed ninja style, I shivered up to the start for the Cat 2 Male 40+ start. A hearty clanging of cowbell and off we went.

Ready to Race or Rob a Bank?

Those familiar with the Freedom Center know that the first 2 miles of that trail are by far the most difficult, with the longest and steepest of the hills with most of it well off camber. nike air max 2016 goedkoop Our sub freezing temps the last week have kept the snow dry, light and fluffy. In other words, tractionless. And in snow, with 50-ish of your closest competitors, it went up exponentially. On the flats, in the snow packed down only by the riders in front of me (which was most of them) the riding, though a bit unnerving, was doable as long as I did not get myself into a situation requiring any quick corrections. Anything off camber, and any exposed wood (root, branch or twig) encountered even the slightest bit off 90 degrees resulted in assured wheel slide out. The first half of the first lap was your typically frustrating traffic jam and jockeying for position as nearly everyone but the best of the class tried desperately to deal with the crowd as well as figuring out how best to negotiate the conditions. Those of us “in the pack” did not negotiate so well to begin with. A lot of slipping, a lot of sliding, a lot of cursing and grunting and falling. nike air max femme pas cher I must admit my ire was up, with myself, the race organizers and all my fellow competitors as I struggled mightily through these first two miles. I probably walked as much as I rode, as evidenced by my 13+ minute miles. Adding to my thoughts of bailing after only one lap were my nearly frozen finger tips. I was NOT having fun! In fact, my fingers were the only part of me uncomfortable from the weather. My heart rate and body temp and probably blood pressure were already up given the effort. Slowly but surely the crowd thinned out and I managed to begin to figure out what speeds, lines and techniques gave me the best shot at remaining upright. Nike Air Max Shoes UK By halfway through lap 1 I could feel my fingertips again. nike By mile 4 my attitude had greatly improved and thoughts of stopping after this initial lap had virtually evaporated. As I passed through the Start/Finish my thoughts had come round to taking what I’d learned to make lap 2 faster. Fast, of course being relative to the conditions.

The Red Stands Out

And so it was, though not without it’s own challenges. Less crowd was certainly a factor in this, but so was my riding. This time around my greatest efforts came in trying to manage my desire to go faster with being conservative to avoid falling. At first I wasn’t too good at this either, but I eventually figured it out. And then my competitive side kicked in. There were three other riders, all of whom made their way around the laps within a few hundred feet of me. One in particular drove my spirit (and admittedly my ego driven anger) as he was clearly not in racing, but more like survival mode. Peddling easily around, he gave no indication of a racing attitude. Each time I would pass him I would let myself out a bit and ride more aggressively. And sure enough, I’d soon make a mistake and end up face down in the snow, or slid out off trail and there he would go past. And this would only fuel my fury. Not only having to pass him again, but knowing that I was a faster (and in my mind better) rider. Everything became about beating him across the finish line. At the halfway point through lap 2 there is a rather large ditch crossing. I crashed here on lap 1; I was determined, having just recently past my ever increasing nemesis, to glide right through it this time. But no!!! Despite my best effort to glide on a straight line, I somehow found myself faceplanted against the far side. Getting out of this 5 ft ditch proved a challenge in itself, as there went that guy, by me again, along with a couple of others. ARRRRGGGHHHH!!!! Once back on my bike it was a short climb and then a long steady downhill on which I discovered that something was wrong with my rear brake. Squeeze….nothing. asics pas cher Huh. Squeeze…..nothing. Uh oh. Well, I’ve only got about 2.5 miles left, and half of that is flat or uphill. No sense in stopping now to figure this out, not to mention its way to friggin cold. Guess the front brakes will have to do. It took me a little while to catch up to my enemies. Two obliged me nicely, allowing me to pass. Ahead was Mr Sunday Rider. Over the next mile we swapped places twice, each time expletives leaking past my gritted teeth. And finally, with a half mile to go, he slid out on an uphill and I scooted on past. I made sure I was out of earshot before I said to myself aloud, “easy Paul. Nice and conservative to the finish and he won’t be able pass you.” Nice when a plan comes together. Clayton Kershaw Authentic Jersey

To the Finish Line

1:51:01 for a 9.6 mile course is certainly no land speed record, but when all was said and done the results are quite satisfying, having shaved more than 7 minutes off my time between lap 1 and lap 2. My bike performed great. Especially being to be able to run my Stan’s No Tubes Crest wheels at such a low tire pressure to give me as much traction as possible.

The following is an update from our dear friend and fellow adventure racer, Liz Notter. Liz shared an update with us from the field and we wanted to share with you! Enjoy! For those of you who don’t know, I’m racing for the US team in the Mountain Bike Orienteering World Championships in Bialostok, Poland. Nike Air Max 2017 Dames roze The team came over a week early to participate in a training camp put on by the race organization. The USA is the admitted underdog…. we are the Team of Trying Very Hard. Solde Adidas Not only do the Europeans do this stuff from elementary school on, we have no local or national series, and some of the team members have no place to even practice. I’m lucky, with 2 meets a year and some great maps (thanks Victor!), but for some of the team, their only meets are the ones they put on. The Camp The camp is basically daily practice courses on terrain similar to what we’ll be racing on for the WC (not the same forest/towns, that’s all embargoed). We gather at 11 am a pre-arranged spot in a local forest (they are using three different forested areas for the week-long camp), they hand us a map, and we go out to ride the practice course. We have a printed schedule of which course we will be doing on each day. We’ve done 3 Middle distance, 3 Long distance, 2 Sprints, and one mixed relay sprint (4 legs of 12 controls each, teams of 2 (male and female), 4 different maps). goedkoop nike air max 2017 Middle and sprint are usually together on the same day. All of the courses are e-punch, so we are able to print out our splits for later analysis, but not all of the maps are accurate and sometime punches are missing. The courses are unbelievably hard, and like nothing any of us have seen before. The main benefit of coming to Camp has been to be able to match the different types of lines on the map (they’re by difficulty of travel) with what the trails/logging road/etc. actually look like. The courses we’ve been riding have mostly been logging/fire roads laid out in a grid, with trails going off of them in various ways. Lots of fencing for logging areas. No single track like we’re used to…. more like social trails than anything else. The narrow trails are overgrown and have deadfall every couple of feet. Nike Dames I’ve attached the middle distance course map from yesterday so you can see what I mean. Today was the first day we had hills, and they were steep, but small. Mostly it’s flat double-track, some with deep sand. And NETTLES. They have nettles from hell here. They sting like the ones at home, but then they itch, sting and tingle for DAYS. I’ve learned to look for them, but there’s not much I can do to avoid them if they’re on the track I need to go down! The first day of camp we were one of the few teams here… it was just us and the Chinese (two guys, one with flat pedals). Adidas ZX Flux Heren We had the hotel mostly to ourselves. Teams have slowly been arriving over the span of the week. First the Russia junior team (it’s huge and very very good at this), then the Bulgarians, then the French junior and elite teams, the Aussies, and the Kiwis. goedkoop nike air max nederland It’s like a very FIT United Nations here now. :) My Experience I’m glad I came to camp, because it took me three days just to get myself oriented to how things look here. nike air max 90 vt femme The third day was truly horrible, I had two 20 minute control mishaps, wandering around the woods completely lost. A “What the hell am I doing here” kind of day. The day was not helped by my near drowning in a canal, after I stepped on a bridge where the boards were not nailed down and it literally launched me into the canal, with my bike on top of me! That stupid bridge was on both of the maps the next day (it was deemed unrideable by the race organization late in the day after at least two more people went in and half of the boards ended up in the water). adidas superstar Since then, I’ve gotten much better. I had a clean run yesterday, with one bobble, and a clean run today with no bobbles but with a couple of stupid route choices.) I’ve actually enjoyed the Sprint courses quite a bit. They are GREAT practice, without all the back and forth of the longer courses. From what we can tell, at least one of the Sprint races will be in a zoo, which will make it even more interesting. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Poland Is beautiful, very picturesque. Tiny villages on dirt roads, surrounded by thick forests and farmland. The Poles are very polite but not friendly. Most speak excellent English, and I am trying VERY HARD to learn some Polish, but suck at it. They’ve only had a free-market economy since the mid-90s, it’s amazing how far they’ve come in that short time. Anyway, that’s it’s for now. I’m taking a rest day tomorrow, then opening ceremonies and a model event are on Sunday, racing starts for real on Monday.

By Paul Ruchlin

I know Team Halfway There is dedicated to Adventure Racing, and well they should be. Kyrie Irving All Shoes They are a talented, committed and very successful group of uber-athletes, not to mention a great bunch of fantastic people. But for me, as the warmth and inevitable Mid-Atlantic humidity start to settle in, it’s road biking season. I will still make the occasional foray to the single-track now and then, but far more often I’m off on the highways and byways of Virginia, or Maryland, or West Virginia, or Pennsylvania…….or in this case New Jersey and New York.

I am, by virtue of birth and the better part of my first 21 years on this planet, a New Jersey native. My parents and two of my three siblings still reside in what I know most of you do not believe is, The Garden State. asics tiger pas cher If you ever get there and manage to make it off the Garden State Parkway (there’s a reason it’s called that) or the NJ Turnpike, you’ll quickly discover why. By the way, Trenton, Camden and Atlantic City don’t count. Women Air Jordan 5 Anyway, because it took me home, offered me a chance to ride where I’ve never ridden before and presented a very challenging course, I rode in the Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY on May 18th. Gran Fondos (or is that Fondi? The only Italian I speak is related to food and wine) are becoming more and more popular in the US. They’ve been the staple for European riders for decades, but now you are likely to find as many a Gran Fondo around the country as Century Rides and they are turning out to be the perfect combination. air max chaussures Although technically a “competitive race” they are also designed for the noncompetitive riders. Just like Centuries, they have multiple courses of varying lengths. The premier length is, of course, the Gran Fondo, which is the 100-ish mile course, which means somewhere between 95 and 105 miles. There will also be a Medio, or 60-ish mile course and a Piccolo, or 30-ish mile course. The main difference is that some portion, or perhaps the entire course, is timed for those wishing to be competitive. I have seen Fondos where the entire course is timed, but more frequently there will be two or three challenging climb sections that are timed, with the lowest combined time determining the winner. Of course, this is only important if you’re in it to compete. As I am not of that caliber I do these for my pure love of the riding and so, while it is fun and motivating to record and review my times for my own enjoyment, I hold no pretense to actually be a competitive.

And rest assured that is fine for all participants. When I did my first Gran Fondo about a year ago, I was concerned that it would be very road-racer intensive. Yes, you do encounter those folk, but they are not the majority by far and other than having a timing chip on you or your bike, and a mass or rolling start at a specified time, as opposed to a “show and go” start, you might never know the difference between a Century Ride and a Gran Fondo.

So, off I headed late last week to my boyhood stomping grounds. I grew up about an hour due west of NYC. This race starts right on the lower level of the George Washington Bridge, running between Fort Lee, NJ and the Bronx in New York City, runs up the Hudson River to the top of Bear Mountain and back again. Beautiful and very hilly, the Gran Fondo route covers just under 99 miles with more than 8800 ft of climb, including the 4.5 mile, 1300 foot climb to the summit of Bear Mountain.

Friday morning I headed in to Manhattan, to the 69th Regiment Armory on 26th Street and Lexington Ave where the NY Bike Expo and packet pick-up was taking place. Although not the most impressive bike expo I’ve been to, in terms of size, the quality of the vendors was higher than normal and I picked up some info packets for some very cool trips and products. And I do have to give a special shout out for the swag bag from this event. You get the GFNY Jersey, which is mandatory for all riders on the day of the race; a quality GFNY water bottle; wool gloves; cold weather bike shoe covers (entire shoe, not just toe covers) and a very decent bottle of wine from a local NY winery. Really, a classy bag of goodies especially considering the entry price for the race was only about $100.

The race is good and early on Sunday and considering I had about an hour to drive, then park and ride a few miles to the start, 0400 came WAY early. As you can imagine, shutting down the GW Bridge is something of a logistics coup, Gov Christie fiasco notwithstanding, and given the extreme urban environment of both Fort Lee and the Bronx, there is just no way for the race to provide parking very close to the start. I parked in Fort Lee, rode across the upper level of the bridge just as the sun was rising, spectacularly, over downtown and made my way the 3 miles to the on ramp for the bridge’s lower level. With a quick “pit stop” at the base of the bridge (literally, I peed on the bridge stanchion, just moments before NY’s finest came through and yelled at all the other guys for, well….peeing on the bridge stanchion instead of the porta-potties) I then headed up the ramp on to the bridge. The process was slow here and it took about 25 minutes to walk my way to my starting corral for numbers 2000-2500. My number was 2147, out of over 5000 riders. Then it was the long 30 minute wait for the start.

I’m very glad the organizers put in the info packet that no matter the weather, it will be windy and much cooler on the bridge. Temp was in the low 50’s and with a slight but building breeze out of the north, even in the sea of black, white and lime green humanity it was rather chilly waiting for the 7:00 am gun to go off. But off it went and off we went as well.

Having written a time or two about my experiences, it seems it’s only the things that go wrong that make for good stories. So, other than belching up a hunk of my bagel and whitefish salad I’d had for breakfast hours earlier, that I damn near choked on at mile 15, most of the ride was quite uneventful. The first 45 miles we headed north, up the Hudson River Valley and I was……….”In A New York State Of Mind”……………. Sorry. Hope I don’t have to pay royalties for that. There was a good and steady 10-15 mph of wind and there was clearly going to be no relief from this till we turned around at the top of Bear Mountain and headed back south. With the wind and the hills, I was very happy with my time as I progressed and was feeling great as I entered Bear Mountain State Park. I stopped quickly to text my family members who’d ventured out to see me along the way. The plan was to meet at the top of the mountain, but I quickly discovered they were not letting anyone up the mountain. And that mountain is a BEAR of a climb….Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! There are at least 4 sections that hit 12-14% grade and although they aren’t too long, taken all together, it was a challenge. I just kept it slow and steady, spinning my lowest gear and managed to average about 6.5 mph up to the top, passing far more people than passed me. I grabbed some food and a quick photo at the top, texted my family again and headed back down. fjällräven kånken big NOW THAT WAS FUN. I may not climb very well, but I do LOVE to descend and I did get annoyed a bit at the riders who forced me to hit my brakes as they white-knuckled they’re way down. Now I understand that hesitation and I don’t disparage anyone for controlling their speed. Nike Air Max Dames Goedkoop But PLEASE, if you’re afraid to go fast, stay somewhat to the side and for all of our sake don’t weave all over the road. Give me the room to get around you and don’t force me across the yellow line and I promise I will keep well clear. nike air zoom schoenen I did hear that one person crossed the yellow line and there was a rider-rider head-on collision. I hope that wasn’t really true. That could have been VERY ugly. I came across my family at the bottom of the mountain and spent a few minutes with them before starting off again. As you can imagine, whatever trepidation I’d had for this race was based on climbing that mountain. Scarpe Adidas It was tough, but not soul-breaking and I was psyched to be feeling so good afterwards. That should have been bad sign number one. Little did I know that the next 20 miles of up and down would be far harder, mentally and physically. It was quite the slog with several sections of 12-17% climbs and not all that much downhill to rest in between. Keeping myself very well hydrated and fed with GU, Hammer Gel, Sport Legs, Skratch Hydration and food at the Rest Stops was critical in getting me through. At one point I did almost have a “bad moment” of my own. After the hardest of the climbs, through a really nice neighborhood with amazing homes I was screaming downhill. Ahead of me were two young girls, maybe 12-14, walking on the side of the street, one with headphones on. I mean those huge 1970’s full ear headphones with the antennae on top. As I’m rocketing towards them at about 35 mph, headphone girl suddenly and inexplicably decides it’s time to, without looking, cross to the other side of the street. “DON’T DO THAT” as loud as I could possibly scream! The good news is she heard me. Her head turned and I swear to god I would never have thought human eyes could get that big. The bad news is she now went in to the startled squirrel dance in the middle of the street. Yep, one of those, the entire world goes in to ultra-slow motion, moments. My eyes were probably as big as hers just then. I don’t think I missed her by more than 2 feet. I braked, but was still over 30 mph when I went by her. I heard a squeaky “Sorry” recede in to the distance as I turned the corner. That might have been where my heart rate maxed out that day. The last 30 miles really were uneventful. They included the longest relatively flat section of the entire course, with one last challenging climb crossing the NY/NJ border and some up and down in Palisades Park to the finish. I think the real soul crusher was finishing at a 7.5% upgrade, with nothing left in your legs. I think I rolled across the line at 4.5 mph. WooHoo!!! After crossing the timing finish, you have a couple of miles to ride to get down to the river where the “finish” and party are. The unfortunate part of that is…..as I mentioned at the start…….all the participants are parked either at the top of the Palisades in Fort Lee, or across the river, which entails climbing back up the Palisades and riding across the GW Bridge bike path in to NYC. A SIGNIFICANT climb, particularly after 100 miles, stopping, cooling down and perhaps imbibing a beverage or two. Really, a logistical failure on the race organizers part. They ran shuttles to Fort Lee and NYC, BUT, no bikes allowed on the shuttle. Yep, they are getting killed in race surveys on this point, I’m sure. They did from me. Overall, it was a FANTASTIC event, with the exception of that end part. I did find out this was the first year they ended in that location. I’m rather certain they will re-plan the finish for upcoming years. Assuming they do, I HIGHLY recommend this event. It’s hard, but well run, with great perks, and a great sense of satisfaction when you cross the line.