Oct 31, 2006


Last night on the way home from work I did some exploring. Now I'm totally pumped about a NEW photo project idea. It’s going to be an adventure that's for sure.. I’ll post some teaser shots along the way.

- Mike

Oct 30, 2006

Beacon... I shake my fist.

I have a laundry list of reasons why I did so poorly yesterday at Beacon Cross. Only one of them is semi-legitimate: My bar clamp on my stem was not tight and my bars were constantly slipping farther and farther down as I raced. I didn’t really notice until after the race but now I know why my back was (and still is) aching. My lower back was just killing me the whole race. I had to sit up lean back to stretch out my lower back but it just didn’t help, I was really uncomfortable thru the entire race.

That’s not the only reason why I did so poorly. I also haven’t been riding. Sure I ride 10miles everyday but that’s pretty low intensity work commute mileage. That’s not training. I need to hit the trainer hard and put in 30 or so miles a night.

I took a few sections of the course pretty sloppily though. Coming out of the sandy trails I lost my grip leaning too hard in the turns and my rear washed out a few times. I can’t blame it all on my tires but I did just put on a new set of tires I’d never ridden before, 20 minutes before the start of the race… not so smart. They were didn’t work well in the sand at all.

Here’s some positives about the race: I killed the run up the Ampitheatre of Pain each time. I shouldered well and climbed like an antelope. I also made it through the sand pit almost every time without unclipping and floundering.

I’m just really disappointed in the way this race played out for me this year. This is my favorite race, I have been waiting all year for this race and I totally sucked out. I think I placed in the low 30s. I only passed people in the first lap… after that it was me being passed for the rest of the race.

My fiancé is the best. I haven’t mentioned her in a while on here but she really has been a die-hard supporter of my racing for the past 2 years. Her cheering and encouragement forces me to use every bit of energy to clean that steep hill or pick up my pace on the run ups. I want to thank her for everything she does for me when I’m on and off the bike.

The fiance took some great photos of the killer B’s in action. If anyone wants original files to print, just let me know.

Well, It’s going to get better. As Kurt Vonnegut said: “the past is prologue”.

- Mike

Oct 27, 2006


And so tonight we finally carved the pumpkins we picked up after the Iron Cross Lite Race. I hacked out the stitched up guy on the left and my girlfriend carved out a really sweet jobbie she's calling "angry robot head". Note the electric arc going across it's head... sweetly dee I say, sweetly dee. 

Doris was quite interested in what we were doing when we were pulling handfulls of pumpkin brains out at the kitchen table. She was waggin' her tail and standing on her hind legs to see what we were doing with the big orange things... below are a few shots of her on her hind legs in the kitchen.

I love our dog, I don't think there's a cuter mut out there.



... eh, I don't know how I feel about this.
- Mike

Oct 26, 2006

Wish I had thy holy hand grenade sometimes...

I saw a rabbit this morning on the way to work. I don't know why but I immediately started thinking about the rabbit in the Monty Python movie: The Holy Grail. Then I realized it's time to add this movie to my Net Flix. Haven't seen it in years.

- Mike

Oct 25, 2006

It's getting colder...

My girlfriend snapped this photo of me this morning while I finished making my lunch. I broke out the arm & leg warmers this week as temps have been falling lower and lower each day.

Lately, with the overtime, I’ve been riding to work and back in the dark. This morning I stepped out into 41° weather. I actually prefer this temperature. It’s not freezing but you need another layer.

This is my 3rd year of riding to work every day. Rain nor snow, nor flat tires keep me from getting to work year round. This is the life I love.

- Mike

Granogue Video.

I put together another video. This time it's the Pro Women racing at Granogue. I filmed it with my digital point & shoot camera. It's a very low quality video but it's fun to watch. I think fellow racers get a kick out of these little videos so I'll keep making them.
Click the image to download it. (41MB) or click here.
- Mike

Oct 24, 2006

Sweedish Fish.

Yes, I was testing the conductivity (or resistance actually) of one Sweedish Fish today. A colleague, reluctantly agreed to hold the multimeter leads while I took this photo.

"c'mon man.. it's for the blog. ...and I'll give you some fish."

I found that the resistance of the fish steadily climbed and almost stabilized at around 50. ohms... which makes me think it has some capacitance. ... interesting.

After measuring 4 fish and calculating the average lengths I have determined, for you, the Sweedish Fish Lover, the average dimensions of one of these soft & chewy candies:

  • Avg Length: 1.195"
  • Avg height: .530" (taken at doral fin area)
  • Avg thickness: .225"

- Mike

Granogue & Wissahickon - 18th & 11th.

This past weekend was the first double race weekend of the season. I’m still too exhausted to give it the proper write up it deserves but it was one of the most intense and demanding weekends of racing so far this season. Both courses were expertly set up and the weather conditions were perfect.

I ended up 18th on Saturday at Granogue. This was the first of the Verge MAC Cylocross Series. The next day at Wissahickon I placed 11th.

I especially enjoyed racing on Sunday. For most of the race Chris M, FAST Marc, Ray B, Todd Hesle and I were constantly battling for 6th through 10th. In the end, I had slipped to the back of this crew and was unable to catch Chris at the line. I’m happy with 11th. I will be shooting for a top 10 finish at the next Verge MAC race though.

I do have to say this: My game was top notch this weekend at both races. No foolish mistakes, no nervous footing/bobbling on barriers and I chose to run a few sections instead of trying to ride them; I saved precious seconds and my results were the better for it.

Below are a few photos of me in pain… having a blast of course. Gina Harshman took these photos and she’s been doing a great job doing so this season.

- Mike

Above: I foolishly gulped a GU packet down 1 minute before the race without any water... I fought hard to keep that down during the first lap.

Above: Chasing Fast Marc

Above: Dippin' & divin' through the switchbacks.

Above: trying not to wash out in the turns.

Above: Crushing the pedals on the finishing stretch. I gapped up to a rider who passed me on the last lap, switched his wheel and crossed the line a length ahead of him.

Oct 20, 2006

Toe Spikes.

So, my toe spikes came in the other day and I picked them up at Joe's last night. They're going to be a big help this season on those muddy run-ups. I just put them on my shoes and they're down right scarey... they're bigger than I thought.... excellent.

This weekend holds 2 races for me. Saturday is Granogue in Delaware. Sunday is Wissahickon just outside of Philly. These are the first 2 races of the MAC series... a bigger, tougher series than the races I've been doing so far this season. I'm ready for it.


Oct 19, 2006

I want...

I work in the Quality Assurance Department at an Engineering firm here in Baltimore, which means I get to use a lot of really nifty tools and precision measuring equipment. We just got this beauty today and I've been using it all morning. It's a digital torque wrench. It's awesome. I'd love to have one of these for working on my bikes. Who really knows how much torque you're putting on those little chain ring bolts? What about your pedals? How much is too much? I have a feeling I'm over-torquing everything. It's nice, it's fun, it's $385.00.

- Mike

Oct 18, 2006

Yours for $30.00

I ordered this a month ago for my track bike, but I got the wrong Bolt Pattern. This is a 144BCD, 48T FSA chainring. No ramps. Never used; brand spankin' new. Yours for 30 dead presidents. Let me know and I'll bring it to a race if you like. Here are two other pictures of it:
- Mike

My new secret weapon...

As if shaving my beard wasn't enough to throw some racers off, I'll be riding a new frame for the remainder of this cyclocross season. Tactics, tactics...

This summer I cracked the frame of my Giant TCR Limited composite road bike. The guys at Giant were happy to replace my frame for me... when I requested their new TCX cyclocross frame set they were a little shocked that I would downgrade but were happy to oblige anyway. I can't wait to get this built up and race on it. I'm really stoked about the Easton fork.


Oct 15, 2006

5th place at Iron Cross Lite!

I'm smiling because I'm proud. Damned proud. It's only 5th place; not a win, but I felt like I won.

Yesterday I raced the 4th race of the MABRA Cyclocross Series up in Gardners, PA. (about 20 miles north of Gettysburg).

I wasn't feeling good about my training at all this week but I did feel good on the line and my plan was to take it easy and just sit in near the front of the pack - if possible.

At the whistle we were off like a pack of cheetahs. The first stretch of course was false flat gravel road with two wheel ruts of fairly hard packed gravel. We rumbled up the road, stones pinging off of frames wheels kicking loose from bursts of acceleration. Dust clouded my vision and coated my tongue as we huffed and puffed our way to the first real climb. I stayed back in about 20th position.

The first climb was easy. We all rolled right up it with ease, dipped around the hairpin at the top and juiced it onto the sketchy gravel decent. This was a little hairy. I couldn't see my line at all. I knew, from pre-riding, that there were some serious ruts at the top of this decent but with the pack being so tight and the dust so thick, I just put my weight back and got in the drops.

The first set of barriers were right in the middle of a climb. No sweat: I was off, over, and back on the pedals in one smooth motion. Next up was a long grassy decent into the sand pits. Luckily the sand pits were solid and my tires were hooking up nicely. At this point I had passed a few more riders and was hanging around 11th or so.

Next, they threw us into the "circle of death". Promotors love to do this to us. They think it's funny. It's not funny... it is fun though. I did great through this section, sticking my face out over the front wheel to get some traction through those tight turns.

After the dizzying circle of death we were bottle-necked into a trail through the woods. A trail of super sketchy loose gravel. They conveniently put some logs along the trail which I nearly wrecked on every single lap. Unfortunately for Marc, he bit it on these logs in the first lap. As I rode past I saw him on his back, with his legs straight up in the air. Seeing his pink helmet so stationary during the race was not a happy sight. Nothing you can do but keep racing... so I did.

Through the trail we railed and over a nice tiny section of singletrack before being dumped back out on the gravel road on which we started. Lap 2 here we go.

At this point I was in 7th or 8th I think. I switched the wheel of a ADG rider and put in a hard effort to bridge up to the lead group of 4 riders. Once I hopped on that train, I stayed there for the rest of the race and the 5 of us put a big gap on the chase group. It was awesome and I kept telling myself "stay with em'... DON'T fall off... DON'T fall off."

I hung on for dear life... Todd Hessle was pulling the train, John Brewer was the coal tender, then there was some guy in a red kit, then Zack Adams and I was the caboose. We were seriously hauling ass. I was amazed to be keeping up with Hessle and Brewer and my legs were feeling great.

On the next to last lap, either John or Todd, put the pedal down hard. We were already hauling along on that gravel road but the train lurched forward even faster and I popped as soon as I noticed it. I wanted to stay tucked in and let them pull me for as long as possible. I didn't have the strength to attack but I wasn't going to let them leave me either.

Through the grass sections I was constantly loosing them and reeling them back in. The announcer was killing me: "O'Hara just can't hang on to them... oh wait, he's bringing them back.... he's back on! .... oh he's off again! Wait he's back!".... grrrr....

On the final lap, they opened it up once more on the gravel road and this time I couldn't hang on. I let them go and settled into my own comfy fast rhythm. I wasn't worried about getting gobbled up by the chase group because I knew I had a large gap on them. So I focused on Zack and tried to reel him in with my own steady pace. I got close but when I saw him descending to the finish while I was nearing the top of the climb, I knew I'd finish 5th, and man I was stoked for that!

No, I didn't win. But I'll tell you: This race was just what I needed to get my spirits back up. I've had two races that I botched up pretty good. A 16th and a 17th place finish don't make me feel so great, so to have a 5th again... well, it's just great. I love cyclocross and I love racing.


Oct 14, 2006

The taste of 5th place....

The taste of 5th place is sweet... and spicey... like Bob's Salsa that I won... how I love it.... I'll give a full race report tomorrow. For now: Time to cuddle up to my girlfriend on the couch with some chips, tasty salsa and The Motorcycle Diaries. 

Today was a great day!

- Mike

Oct 13, 2006

Another Cyclocross Video.

I swore that I'd make some more cyclocross videos this season, but lately, after racing I've been too pooped to film the pros. I know that's no excuse. So here's the first video I've made this season. It's of the Elite Men at the Ed Sandor Cross Race in Buckeystown, MD. Enjoy.
Click the picture above to download or here.


Oct 11, 2006

I thought I was going to get soaked this morning...

I thought I was going to get soaked this morning as I rode to work. The sky was pretty threatening. I especially thought I was going to get soaked when I pinch flatted hopping off the sidewalk and onto MLK. I amazed myself with how quick I can swap a tube out on the fixed gear. 4 to 5 minutes tops... 
Not much to report these days... not sure if I'm going to race this weekend at Iron Cross... not my fav course.


Oct 6, 2006

Friday: Call of Duty.

That's me (above) in the heart of Nazi Germany. I'm fighting with the British ground forces and having a good time. I'm also at work right now. Between zipping through the warehouse on the fork lift, inspecting parts and writing reports, I'm sniping those dirty Nazi's. It's a lot of fun especially on a rainy day at work.

It's funny because on The Office last night, they were playing Call of Duty also. I've been playing COD at work for the past year now. 20 minutes here, a lunch break there... maybe an hour or so in the morning while my boss is stuck in traffic. Pretty shameful I guess... but honestly, this game keeps me sane here at work.

In other news: I'm stoked to be racing tomorrow in Hagerstown. I'm looking forward to some mucky mud bogging goodness. I hope it pours rain tonight! My legs are feeling great and I'm ready for my podium spot!

- Mike

Oct 2, 2006

Ed Sandor Cross Race - Buckeystown, MD.

I definitely made up for last weekend's poochie performance with a 6th place finish this weekend. This weekend's race was the Ed Sandor Cyclocross Race. (#2 on the MABRA Calendar)

I raced smart, stayed calm and saved some energy for the final lap. - All things I've sworn to work on this season.

I was in the second row on the start line but wasn't worried. My strategy was to hang in the front but not ON the front. Within the first lap I made my way up from 20th seat to 4th. I followed Fatmarc for most of the race trying to help pull, and work with him but to no avail; he was just stronger than me on this day. At one point I pulled ahead of him to help share the load but quickly fell back, unable to keep the tempo.

Above: photo by Michael Kirk

Above: Photo by Michael Kirk.
In the 4th lap people started to really gain on me. I fought tooth and nail to keep the pace up but let a couple people slip past.

Above: photo by Gina Harshman

Overall: I felt great, I'm definitely where I want to be as far as my conditioning/fitness and I've got a great attitude toward this season. Next weekend's race: Hagerstown Cross!


ps: I really need to get some new shoes. My Sidi's are 10 years old... 10! I can't keep duct taping them forever.