Wednesday, May 30, 2012
After some deliberating and soul searching...I have decided to throw my name in the hat for the VT50 this year. I hear from those that have done it that this is one of the races that need to be done in a racers career merely for the experience. So with the thought of concentrating on going long this season, why not do it in 2012. I know it's a brutal race but it's right towards the end of the season. Hopefully it'll be fun and not quite as epic as those make it out to be.
The Mohican 100 is on the horizon and I'm not quite sure what to think. I absolutely love this course and I'm excited to get out there and race, I just hope my legs show up to help me. For the Cohutta 100 last month, I did well but half way through the race my legs just went into limp mode. I'm hoping that this round will be a bit better. My last two attempts in 2009 and 2010 were 8:30 and 8:56 respectively. In 2010 being the horrendously muddy race and a sure test of mental toughness. This year's conditions seem to be forecasted to be great. I just hope it delivers. If everything goes right I'm hoping to get my 2nd sub 8 100 miler finish. The task at hand now is to analyze some data and see how I can get to that magic sub 8 number. I do see that there are a few course tweaks and hopefully that shouldn't put too much of a dent into the race plan.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Another great race was put on by Team Town Cycle and this years race loop was much more conducive to actually racing! It still had features that were technical and tough while creating much more flow and a great feel. The only trouble was it was TIGHT! If you had a spot to pass you had to pass aggressively.
Anyway as the Cat 2 race went off it was evident that the day was getting hot pretty quickly. That sun was starting to bake everyone and it felt kinda good! The start was pushed back just slightly and everyone was doing the parking lot crit just trying to stay warmed up. Finally we all rolled up to the line and got ready for the pain.
The whistle went off and it was a shoving match going around the first few corners. There were 15 pros and not sure where everyone panned out from the start but I was at the back. There were maybe two or three guys behind me. That's fine as I'd hope to start getting some back as the day went on. So on lap 1 it was so tight we all just had to stay in the train of riders flying through the smooth singletrack. I got stuck behind Johan Koserius and he was having trouble in the singletrack. He kept bobbling and clipping trees and of course as he stuttered I couldn't get around. So he started gapping us off of the group. A little while later Ken W. came through and got on Johan's wheel. We stayed in line up otter slide and at the top of Otter Johan once again bobbled and caught Ken with him and I flew by on an alternate line and drilled it hoping to open up the gap to them and catch back on the group ahead. It started to work as I stayed on the edge of control and worked every corner hard and heard a few racers up ahead.
I passed a guy I didn't recognize and thought ok maybe I'm in 10th or 11th now or something. Towards the end of the first lap I got up to Wagoner and he let me go through, I think just to use my wheel cause on the next road he flew by and stayed just in front. Through the parking lot feed on the start of lap 2 Greg and I picked up Matt Miller and the three of use were riding a pretty good clip through the twisty singletrack. After the one stream crossing on Warthog my chain decided to not want to stay on my front rings. Fumbled and tried to get going but Matt and Greg were gone. So I chased hard to get back to them. I saw them riding the top of otter slide as I was on the bottom and could see those two plus Rich W. I kept on the gas and was getting closer and closer. Then I hit some sharp rock up by tiger pen and my tire starts hissing at me. I do some random body english and eventually it seals up with probably 10 psi in it. I knew it wouldn't last long. So I rode it farther than I should and as I came up the lip after the nasty rocky crossing towards the end of the lap and I hit it with a shot of co2 and jumped back on. Now no one in sight in front or behind. I wasted all that energy chasing on just to deal with a flat...bummer.
So in an effort to keep the guys behind from coming up I got back into the groove and drilled it once again. This lap I was cooking. Lap 1 was ok since I was in traffic, lap 2 was slower with the dropped chain issue and the flat but the tire was holding and I cranked lap 3 hard. I felt the groove and was drifting through the turns and really making the momentum work in my favor. I got back to otter slide and saw the same thing...the guys a little further ahead but still reachable. I rode smooth and strong and saw them getting closer and closer. I eventually rode onto Rich W's wheel and he was having a hard day with the tight trees. I passed him and kept on the gas and kept it smooth. I figured he dropped off of Greg and Matt's wheel so those two would be much farther ahead. I put down anything I could to gap Rich and see if I could get closer to the other two but to no avail. I crossed the line and learned that Greg was 20 secs ahead and Matt was 40 seconds ahead! If only I didn't have those few little issues and maybe one more lap!
Either was I was excited to have ridden well and gave the new Lynskey a proper initiation on the trails of JH. I figured I was maybe 9th or 10th and I was really excited to see I got 8th! Sweet! That's my best pro finish yet!
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
The next morning we got up and had breakfast and started rolling the 1.5 mile trek over to the starting area. This worked out really well as I'm always super cold at the start and I actually got a nice 30 min warmup in before the gun went off. I pulled right into the middle of the front line and looked around at the nice company that was there. All the big guns that I've admired through the years were right along side of me. At least I'd see them for the start I thought. Glancing around I saw Tanguay, Pflug, Ferrari, Masse, Carter, Simonson, Montalbano, Sorenson, and many others that I am always impressed to be in the presence of. Of course last second came Jeremiah Bishop and after a short prayer the gun went off.
The race went off at 7am and I was content knowing I was actually warmed up for the start. We talked about an easy roll out to control the choke that came up shortly but Monte jumped and just cranked up the whole field. It goes hard for the first 2.5 mile climb out of the gate. My HR is screaming over LT as I shoot up the right side of the pack to tuck into the woods with the main group. I get in the long conga line into the single track as a rider or two shoots through and a bit later, 2nd place finisher on the day, Christian Tanguay shot through as I don't know how he got stuffed back there but I beat him for the first 3 miles anyway. So we sit in line and enjoy the tight singletrack goodness. At this point I'm sitting 26th and with a FAST group. It keeps on and hits the next good climb and I stay with the guys in front of me and we close the gap to a few others. At this point it's a group of 5 with Montelbano, Pflug, Ferrari, and some dude riding for Piggly Wiggly and we're freight training the singletrack. It was awesome and as it kicked up a bit steeper the singlespeeders took off and I just rode the wheel in front of me. As we hit the first sections of fireroad Monte and I dropped a few of the others with us and I rode his wheel and chatted with him for a bit. This kept on for the first 1/3 of the race. Monte soon walked away on a climb where I knew I had to ride within my pace.
Approaching the series of consistent and pitchy climbs, the surface got bad and it wasn't what I remembered. It looked like it was more recently graded and there was no good line. It slowed down the pace and made climbing so much harder than what I remembered. I looked down a bit later and realized I rode the first 40 miles of the race in just over 3 hours and was on a 7:30 pace. I knew I was going to pay for it later and Monte nicely reminded me of the same before I saw him depart. So I kept on the gas and limited my threshold efforts and got though the climbs I remembered were painful from previous races there. I did well and still rode solid for 4.5 hours or so. At that point there was a big decent, singletrack, and then a 2000 foot climb back out on fireroads. This is where I knew I was in trouble. My nutrition and hydration to this point was right on target but I knew I had burned a few too many matches earlier in the race. I had to moderate my efforts and really felt flat for the rest of the race.
I topped off the big climb finally and started rolling the hills I knew and picked up the pace a bit to help my placing. I took a downhill just like the rest and felt a rock hit the rim a little too hard. Up the next hill...yup...flat. So I was relaxed and pulled out my tube and popped it in. Hit the inflator...and it flatted. Crap. Completely checked over everything - turned the tire inside out - checked the rim for burrs or a spoke that cut the tube and nothing. Got another tube and finally got it to work after inflator issues. After 15 minutes of fighting with it and getting it to work - it worked. I was not looking forward to the 4 mile walk back to the last aid station. Finally I took back off and did what I could on the climbs. I wasn't very energetic but I got over them and looked forward to the finish. I was hoping for a sub 8 finish and knew that was long gone. So I actually stopped for a pee break and took extra time at the next aid station making sure I got rid of my bad tubes and picking up new ones and inflators. As the miles rolled on I picked up a little steam but not much else. Then I hit 100 miles and I still wasn't done...really? I know sometimes the Garmin is off but really? 101 miles...then 102...then 103...finally I see the road that is about a mile from the finish at 104 miles. I look at my clock and the 9:00 hour is rapidly approaching. I had to put down one last burst to make sure I didn't cross the 9 hour mark.
8:59:15 was my finishing time. A little disappointed, but proud that I persevered, I headed for the nice cold river to soak my legs. I was 43rd of 165 and in a pretty stacked field. There were some pretty big names in the top 20. It was just a good day on the bike if nothing else. The big thing I realized is that everyone goes through the blahs in these races. It's how long you're there and how it effects the race that really matters. I learned a lot and will have more of a great game plan in the works for the Mohican. My nutrition is what I question the most. I'm thinking I'm missing some key ideas in my daily and race nutrition that I need to get figured out. To have a consisted effort that I'm expecting now is going to take much more effort and experimenting than I originally thought on my minimalist attitude. Also in hindsight I would have MUCH rather have been racing the old course. I might have been able to keep it together since it was much less climbing and I knew it better. That's the way it goes with new or changed courses. It's part of the adventure. Just a great day riding the hills of Tennessee and Georgia.