Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blue Mountain Chainstretcher Recap

After preriding the Thursday before in the rain and slop I wasn't quite sure how good the conditions would be on race day. The days preceeding the race the weather was clear but cool. So I figured the course would be a bit slick but in much better shape than on my preride. I was pretty much right on with the conditions and my course inspection the day of confirmed this. I was ready to roll. I didn't know if my legs would show up but it is my favorite course of the H2H calendar so I hoped they would.

I lined up with 7 of us total - so a small field but some strong competitors. Off the line I sit in about 4th or 5th as I see BL and Greg up the road and I get a stick stuck in my back wheel. Not just any stick, one that was literally 20 feet long. It was basically a tree that was on the side of the trail that a racer in front of me turned and jammed into my wheel stopping me instantly. It took a bit to get it untangled, check out my gear, put my chain back on and get going again. Wonderful, 1/4 mile into the race and I'm starting dead last with a 30 second defeceit. Yippee...

So I kept on and worked my way up to one guy who blocked me a few times and made me unhappy. So I passed him and fell on the ground shortly after...awesome. I rode pretty sloppily trying to get back into the groove and then I passed another. Ok this is getting better. Still fumbling through the normally good techy stuff I started pulling it together little by little. Continuing on I started lap 2 and I got into search and destroy mode. I rode everything smoothly and I had that fire again...YES! This was severely missing for the last two races(not good for a 100 miler and a 50 miler). I put the hammer down and started to see John and BL ahead of me in the twisties and knew I could get to them in the singletrack. I rode up on John and BL as they weren't far apart. I rode on Johns wheel and then got around and looked back as he couldn't hold the pace. So now it was BL and me to set the pace.

BL let me by in the singletrack as I had the groove going but as soon as we got to the fire roads he would hit that high HP and blast right by. Then I'd gap back to him in the singletrack and do it all over again. It was great riding so close to a teammate and pulling away from the competition behind. So we kept this up and at the start of lap 3 BL pulled away on the fire road and as I was trying to close the gap to him I took a hard fall. Sliced open my elbow and bashed my hip pretty good. I had to put my chain back on again, regain my composure, and start cranking hard. I did find the groove later but by that time the course was quickly coming to an end.

I finished 4th of 7, 1:30 behind BL, and it was a great day. Felt pretty good and had some fun doing some dirt surfing. It was a great race and the food afterwards at the Peekskill Brewery was awesome! It was a good result for how I felt and for the few mistakes I made. I put it all out there as I did have some cramping sneaking in for part of the 3rd lap. If things go smoother next time I hope to climb a little higher in the ranks. Hopefully for the next MTB race, the H2H #8 at Wawayanda, there will be more competitors and more fun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Getting through the blahs...

In the middle of the SM100 I wanted to give up my racing career and sell all my bikes and take up basket weaving. This still sounds kinda nice but I need to get serious and get my head back on straight. The season is just about half over race wise...seriously. I usually end up doing somewhere around the 20 mark and I'm a little over half way there. CX season is on the horizon(yea I know for most it's in full swing) and I'm looking forward to the promise of an hour of pain and playing in the mud.

The spark I had for racing all but flickered out in Virginia and I'm slowly getting it back. With the few MTB races left in the northeast I want to do a couple more and there's some opportunities to do it on some of my favorite terrain so I have to partake. I'm finding the itch to race again and getting some of the pooled blood out of my legs from the crash before the SM100. I did some CX efforts tonight with my team and it felt pretty good but definitely not 100%. The promise is that I put down some good power and actually enjoyed the efforts. So I'm getting there. I'll take it. Let's see what the next couple of weeks hold in store.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shenandoah Mountain 100 Race Recap

This past weekend I headed down to Harrisonburg VA and got ready for my 3rd attempt at the SM100 and I had high hopes of a new PR and a good day in the saddle. My prep was good it seemed and this time I shared a hotel with my teammate in hopes that would add to my prep and make this race even better. It was nice having a real bed and not deal with any camping woes. The bad side is that it put us a bit further from the race start and made traveling a little more difficult but it was nice to have that bed. So with things all being good I had gamed up for a great race the next morning.

My PR was 8:41 on this course so I was hoping if everything went right I "might" be able to crack 7:59. I went out hot with the leaders and felt good through the first climb and into the second. As I rolled up to aid #2 I started feeling like I couldn't recover well and just pushed through. I hit the next Hankey Mtn. climb and the wheels started to fall off. I just couldn't put power down and there was no recovery. It felt like that climb took forever and it's not the hardest climb. I rolled in from the pavement leading into Braley's and I totally fell apart on that climb. I was so woosey that I couldn't keep pedaling uphill. I kept pulling over and letting people go by as I told them I was taking in the scenery. I felt embarrassed to be riding a bike.

I spent 20 minutes in the next aid station trying to eat and drink and feel better which didn't seem to help. I then used my granny gear to try and climb the 18 miles to aid #5 and could barely turn over the pedals. I didn't even know if I could walk up to the aid station at that point. I was embarrassed as train after train of riders flew by and there was NOTHING I could do to latch on. This was pathetic. I was pretty much debating as to where I would stop and what river I could jump in if I saw the opportunity. It was a battle just to keep moving forward. The worst part is that I know the course really well and know where I could make turns and shortcut the course to get back to the finish and bag the race - but I couldn't get myself to take the turns. I started telling myself that the race was over and just enjoy the trails and the scenery and I think that started to bring me back a bit.

I somehow got to aid 5 and then started to regain some juice as I wanted the day to be over and end this miserable journey. I tried to focus and get through the next painful sections and it all seemed to go by with less pain but still a dreadful pace. I rolled up and over the last climb and was really happy to see the final turn for the descent into the campground. The ironic part was that I was trying to cut off 42 minutes from my previous best and I added around the same to that time. I crossed the line in 9:23 amazed that I actually finished and was able to ride my bike the 100 miles.

As I diagnose things, the first issue was that on my preride the day prior I went over the bars and severely bruised both legs as they smashed the ground and frame. Enough so where I had to ice and take advil all night and hope the swelling went down so I could pedal my bike. Then the 4 hours of sleep the night before probably didn't help. It just felt like something else was off. Maybe I didn't have enough electrolytes in the week prior? I too did the endurolytes/nutrition/hydration schedule and I was right on but something was still off. Maybe it was just a long season and I was cooked. Whatever it was I was not happy. But like they say, you learn more from the failures than you do from the success. Well I have a lot to learn from this one...