Monday, April 27, 2009

Cohutta 100 Race Report

Back to Tennessee once more I drove to assault the gorgeous Cohutta Wilderness. I drove late into the night and got 4 hours of restless sleep in the Tennessee welcome center and then awoke early to snag a campsite early Friday morning. Good thing I rushed since the campground wasn't anywhere near capacity. The site was great though. Once I picked out my site I snagged one next door to hold for the NYC-MTB trio that was to show up a little later.

Pre-ride was good as things were coming together fine until I realized my tire issue that I would encounter. I set up my new race wheels with some Schwalbe Racing Ralphs and they never really seated or sealed for some reason. After my pre-ride i checked them 3 hours later and both tires lost 20 psi. So I had to tube up my light wheelset but as long as I was smart I shouldn't have any issues. Pasta was put down in the evening as the last tasty calories I would ingest and it was pretty sweet.

Saturday morning I awoke to a fairly chilly morning and had my usual oatmeal and some fruit and off to the line I went. It was probably mid 50's but the weather would soon heat up so the gear of choice was the sleevless jersey and bibs only, as the ladies appreciate the guns.

I lined up not too far from the front and waited for my opening to get to the left and get a good spot into the singletrack. As we climbed the 2.5 mile road climb I put in a decent effort and was sitting in a great position with 1 rider inbetween me and the lead group. As we dumped into the singletrack, I was just enjoying and trying to keep pace with the guy in front. A nice effort got me through the rider in front and then threw a few that got spit out the back of the lead group. Across the bridge alone and opening up a gap I was feeling good and kept on it. Did the climb after the bridge and the remaining singletrack fine, and then enjoyed the gravel hell. I did hydrate well early on but later would be a different story. The problem was more the fact that I worked my nutrition plan like a moron. I forgot to start the Endurolyte process too late and also brought too few pills. That won’t happen again.

The gravel climbs were good and steady with a few steep ups that made me not want to be one of the SS’ers. The main large climb was going well as efforts were pretty steady but then the legs started to go south at 4 hours in. My gracilis would intermittenly fire up as a usual first sign of the cramping to come so I hit the endurolytes at 2:30 but it was a little late. By 4 I was figting cramping in my calves and quads. I tried to super hydrate with heed and water but I forgot about the nutrition. The food came with not enough calories and way too late. The deficit would be hard to recover from. Add on top of that the fact that the Heed seemed to be mixed very weakly so the calories that I thought I was getting - I wasn't. The annoying climbs kept coming after aid 2 and they were steady but not as long as I remember. They would have been much better if I had legs.

After the long downhill the little sprinter climbs were annoying but also nice cause I caught up with my nutrition and kind of settled in on them. After those climbs the steady gravel flats and then slight incline into the climb before aid 4 was rough. It still put in some solid efforts and that went well. Into the next road climb was ok and then I got to aid 6 where the st climb starts. That was good as I was locking out the fork and singlespeeding it since those were the only muscles that would work. I got to the top fairly strong and reached the singletrack where it all went south.

I had NOTHING left. 10 miles to go and NOTHING in the tank. I mustered up the energy to keep going noting the time was getting really late for an 8 hour finish. I actually started the st at 8:07 so it would be tight. I hit one little burst climb that was washed out and had to put a foot down and that was horrible. My calf and hamstring on my right leg were locked and my hamstring on my left leg was locked. I had to peg leg it for 30 feet or so till they kind of unlocked and I could throw a leg over and just spin. And that’s all I could do. Just spin. I kept on at a snails pace and just wanted to see the end. I passed one guy that would pass me later only for me to muster up a little juice to clean the last few sections(Thanks Dave!) of singletrack and hopefully get done with this misery. With the threat of catastrophic cramps lingering just a pedal stroke away I moderated and kept on it. Dave was now following me and we stayed together and chatted down the Thunder Express. This was awesome since he helped pull me into the finish as 9 hours was rapidly approaching. I pulled as hard to the finish as I was blowing up anything I had left. Dave actually pulled me into the line for one last burst of nothingness.

As I crossed the line the clock read 8:58:15. My goal was 8:59:59 and it was good to just sneak in under it with all that went wrong. It still hasn't fully sunken in that I broke 9 hrs. When I started these 100 miler races I thought it was close to impossible to break 10, nevermind 9. 43rd overall in Open Mens was good as last year's finish was 9:46 and 66th overall. It was a long, brutal, sadistic, wonderful day.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tennessee here I come...

Well I pretty much tore all of my apartment tonight to hopefully bring everything I need for the Cohutta 100 in Copperhill TN Saturday. Much preparation and thought has gone into the race and the challenge of a high of 83 during the day poses some deep thought about hydration delivery. Hopefully I've got everything I'll need. I'm leaving Thursday night for a nice 13 hour trip down dreadful I-81. There's WAAAAY too much of Virginia to go through on that road. I'll report back with some details about the race and hopefully some new pics and a new PR. We'll have to wait and see and hopefully I lay down a solid early season race. This year's prep has been much more structured and I've been very dilligent. Lets see if it pays off.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A New SS Joins the Quiver

Well my buddy is getting ready to make a move out to Salt Lake so he needed to get rid of an extra bike. It just so happens that I really enjoy that bike and he made me a great deal. Actually it was a steal. So now I'm the proud owner of a 2007 Fisher Rig 29'er singlespeed. Hopefully somewhere in the future this will be my SS race bike. It's already awaiting a Surly rigid fork to help dial it in. Once that fork is on it'll be a great play bike. I did get a chance today to take it into the woods and play and it's just so much fun to haul through the techy stuff without the fear of the unstylish endo dismount. ***Newly updated as I've had a blast on my 26" rigid SS, so I made this my 29" rigid SS with the addition of a sweet Surly Karate Monkey fork. It rides like a dream so far. I can't wait to add some more miles to it.***>

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Philly 2 Day Classic

Well this weekend I took a drive down to Philly to compete in the 2 day classic. My old roommate and I decided to do it since he lives in Philly and wanted to get a nice workout in. First of all the races were cut shorter than originally advertised. I can understand the promoter's dilemma as there were about 70 people in CAT5 registered and wanted to keep it under the 50 person limit. So they split the one race into two. It was supposed to be a 20 mile race on Saturday and a 15 mile race on Sunday. It turned out to be a 25 min +1 lap race and 25 min +2 lap race respectively. Just what I'm not good at. Fast short races...yikes...

So Saturday was a 2.2 mile lap and we did about 4 laps total. It was a nice course with only two hard high speed turns so it was fairly comfortable. It was 6:30 am though so I didn't get a good warm up in and to top it off they made up sit on the line for a little bit as the course was getting cleared so everyone was frozen. The gun FINALLY went off and we rolled through a nice comfortable 1st lap where I picked out the sketchy riders and was looking for my move to the front. It was my buddy's first road race and I tried to get him to follow me to the front but was trapped in the group. On lap two I steadily put an effort in and was sitting top 5. Things were good as people were shuffling and were never really organized whatsoever. 3rd lap I was close to the front and a guy attacked and I jumped right on his wheel. We rode away and got a little gap but the pack reeled us back in and we stayed at the front of the group. The last lap I set myself up so that mid way through the last lap I would be close to the front for a chance at a good finish. I picked my spot and grabbed a wheel as two other riders had the same idea. I was in 3rd flying towards the line as a group of 5 or so were closing fast and we were all jostling for position as I crossed the line sprinting for 5th. It just felt awkward as I wasn't really warmed up and it was too hard, too fast. But a good race nonetheless. My buddy didn't fair so well as he got shot off the back and put a good effort in to avoid getting pulled.

Sunday was the 0.8 mile technical course as there were a few hard downhill and uphill turns that kept you on your toes. It was the same start time and I had a little better warmup - and maybe a few too many beers the night prior. This race went on for 16 laps and was pretty fast from the start. My buddy started off a little better as we both got to the front pretty quickly but he wasn't feeling well and got shot off the back again only to be pulled a few laps in. It wasn't his day. For me I tried to stay towards the front just to see if anyone would jump and there were a few attacks that were uneventful. Fighting through the turns the rhythm of the course got more comfortable and the lead group picked up the pace shooting riders off left and right. It wound up being only about 20 people left in the main group for the last 5 laps. Each lap got better and better. I steadily climbed to the front and on lap 3 there was an attack on the hill leading to the start/finish and I jumped on his wheel to see if we could both get away. We had a good gap opening up and the other rider just stopped pedaling. I would have worked with him but not for him. So I just let up and got back on the front of the group. 2 laps to go we were cruising and fighting for position in the last lap. At this point one rider jumps off the front and nobody chases?!?!?! Bell lap comes and I figure I need to be towards the front to launch my attack on the last hill. We come flying down into the last turn and I go from 10th position on the inside cranking as hard as I could. I dig deep and get all of the power I could to the ground as I see the riders next to me going backwards. I cross the line in 6th position and pretty content with my performance given the circumstances. It was really a fun time and a great couple of days. It would have been a little nicer if the mornings were warmer though.

As far as the overall I'll have to wait to see where I faired but I'm happy with how things ended up. It was a nice change of pace and I got to do some nice cruising through Philly afterwards. It's a cool scene and a great biking culture for sure.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Road Race #2 in the Books

Yesterday was the Augusta Training Series Crit #4 and my training plan said to complete some higher zone exercises and the coach said to go for it if I want - so I did. It was a good time once again. Great weather and a great group of people. As I sat on the line I looked back and counted about 45 heads in my field. I was wondering how a larger field would workout and it wasn't much different than the 35 at the last race.

As the race went on there were a few attacks but nothing that lasted more than a 1/4 of a lap. I stayed at the front trying to stay out of the wind and stay in the safe zone. I figured I'd stay there for most of the race and then towards the end, drift back a bit to save up some juice for the end. That's exactly what I did. Most of the time I was trying to get Hinder's cover of Wham's "Careless Whisper" out of my head since it was driving me crazy. The thing that finally did it was a guys tire blowing out and knifing through the peleton with no casualties somehow.

Finally we got to the last lap as I was sitting in about 25th resting so I decided to make my move. The group kept the left side open so I steadily slid up trying to get towards the front by the last hard turn. Into the final 90 degree left we went as I was in about 8th. The sprint was on and I lost a few positions and gained a few as we hammered towards the line. I just plain ran out of gas though as we hit the line and one guy nipped me at the line. Counting those ahead I believe I was 13th out of 45 which was great. ***EDIT - Even better. Results are posted and I was 11th out of 45!!!*** Those that I knew were in front of me should have been in front. I was really satisfied to get out there and especially try out my new wheels. This was the 2nd ride on the new Madone 5.1. I don't know if the previous race made this one that much more comfortable or if it was in fact the bike. Either way it was a great race and a pretty good finish. I was really happy with the day's events.