Monday, July 30, 2012

Wilderness 101 Recap

Another good race went down in the hills of PA this past weekend. I started off with the goal of staying with the lead group for the first main climb and hang with them as long as I could. I accomplished this as they seemed to keep it a little more tame than in previous years - or I was able to just hang with them better. Anyway I rolled in the lead group of about 30 that made it over the climb together and rolled down to the tunnel under 322 - the only problem was that the tunnel was gated off and we couldn't go through...yikes! Chris Scott was there and we had to do it old school and whip a u turn and cross the highway the old fashioned way. Of course by this time 20 other riders bridged up and now the lead pack was about 50 strong. That wouldn't last long as on the next few rollers the pace was lifted and we dropped 20 or 25 riders as I stayed calm in the lead group.

This held together til the first aid station and it started to break apart on the climb just after. That was perfect as I knew it wouldn't hold together forever and staying in that group helped conserve a bit. After it broke apart I was on my own. The trails were in decent shape but definitely a little greasy. It was wise to tone it down a little bit on the singletrack since the previous rains and humidity would make the rocks and roots greasy and treacherous. I started riding with some other racers as we hit the next climbs and yo-yo'ing back and forth. I saw a lot of Garth Prosser, for a bit then Rob Lichtenwalner, then Joe Fish and we just kept our heads down and kept it rolling. Rolling into aid #2 it was just me and Rob and we pacelined for a bit trading pulls to make up some time. We hit aid 4 and then settled in for the big climb. I let Rob go and then got back to him later on the descent off the back. We rode together until the next climb when we settled in and I let him and Joe Fish go and we once again all got back together at the top this time with Roger Masse coming up to join in the fun.

As the race went on we all stayed within a few minutes of each other. In the rugged singletrack after aid 3 I felt my legs started to cramp. Great. Here's where the wheels would fall off or I would fight through to get it together. I ignored them as they fired through the remainder of the race but it definitely was a struggle at times. Both of my gracilis(inner thigh) muscles fired like normal first but then my hamstrings and quads started to go as well. That's not fun. So I spun more to get through and still found myself with the same group as they seemed to be having some of the same issues. Rinse and repeat until the final climb. I rolled into it with Roger and Rob and I knew I had to cap this one climb and do it fast if I wanted to get near my goal. As I hit the hard left turn and the climb pitched up I put my head down and settled in as I heard Rob and Roger chatting. I knew Roger was hurting a bit and I decided to leave them but hoped they would come back to work with me for the final 5 miles or so of rail bed so I wouldn't have to hit that alone. Nope - that plan didn't work. I crested the climb and saw no one in sight. I hit the rail bed looking back for them to be rolling up but nope. I really wanted the help now as I was still in the middle of a cramp session and it hurt badly to press through, but I had to. I hit those last 5 miles alone and now it was a time trial to finish off this thing. I was pressing hard on the pedals just to get to the finish line and was creeping up on Justin Pokrivka(SS) who I had worked with a little on an earlier rail bed but he was just out of reach to catch. I finished 5 seconds behind him and crossed the line at 7:36. 12 minutes off my previous best and 19th of 171 in the open class. I finished 23rd overall of 266.

I feel pretty satisfied overall. My goal was to finish in 7:30 in the top 20 and I came really close to getting both. My nutrition seemed to work pretty well as I just used only liquids in the form of Infinit Nutrition but I still had that cramping issue that held me back a bit. If I can figure that out I might be able to go a bit deeper next year and shoot for the top 15. As always if you're ever thinking about a 100 miler this is a great one to do. It was round 5 for me and I'll be back for more.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bulldog Rump Recap

This race is my team race that we put on each year and is usually a great event and a hard one to race well at. Prior to the event I was so wrapped up in work this past week that the race wasn't even on my radar. I did a few rides this past week but nothing of note and I didn't even prereg as I wanted to give myself an out. Up to the last minute I was still thinking of bailing on the race but I needed a good hard workout to prep me for the Wilderness 101 coming up in 2 weeks. With that in mind I lined up for heck of it. To continue the lack of prep I basically dusted off my bike and went over it and hoped it would be good for the race. I cut a tire the day before the race so I had to mount up a brand new tubeless tire that I hate doing as they normally don't fully set up in one day. Fingers crossed - I hoped that would hold. Plus my shifting was off, so I did a little tweaking and it seemed like it would be all set for race day. So I got geared up and sat on the line.

As the race went off I was in the second row. The rider to my left had a chain/pedal issue and slid to the right cutting me off running into my front wheel and almost taking me out. I had to put a foot down and hop a bit to stop from falling down. What a way to start off the race. I got myself back together and had to chase back on from dead last place. I put some power down and jumped past Brian Kelley as he was on a SS and was just laughing as there was no way to hold the pack's pace on his gear. Shortly after though the field bottle necked going into the first big climb and brought us all back together. I worked my way around Ken Welch and kept on a pace that I thought I could hold as I saw a few ahead. I rode up to Brian Lariviere and Ross Anderson and jumped around Ross to get onto Brian's wheel. We rode together for a bit and passed 2 other riders in the process. So we were riding steady and could hear other riders not too far away. I was happier with this but was not happy with what was going on below me. My drivetrain was doing everything but running smoothly. I didn't have my top gear and every other gear was making noise and not shifting right. I don't know if the cable stretched a bit more but it was really distracting. So we kept on and I felt that my legs weren't doing so good. At least I thought I might be able to keep the power down and save some face. Towards the end of lap 1 I was riding comfortable on Ross' wheel and using him to pull me back to BL. We went around a corner and he just pulled to the side as his bike had some issue. I kept the pressure on and used that momentum to get me back to BL.

Into lap two we stayed together pulling each other along and I knew it was only a matter of time until I fell off the pace. We were still doing ok though I was fighting the loss of power and my non-shifting gears. We passed Dave Kahl as he seemed to be having an issue. Towards the back side of lap 2 we heard someone coming up and it was the leaders of the 19-29 category, Eric and Dan flying through. We made room for them in the tight singletrack and that's where I lost BL. From there I just seemed to power down to try and make the rest of the 3 laps. I felt like crap. My legs just didn't want to turn over the pedals. My shifting was so bad I was hoping that the chain would snap just to end the pain. But then I hoped it wouldn't because I know my stubborn a$$ would then run the remainder of the race and I didn't want that.

Next came Brian Shernce cruising through as he was in a nice comfy lead and riding well. I said hi and kept the pedals spinning the best I could. Sometime after I saw John Lombardo pass through and then came Tommy Wheels chasing the other two 19-29 leaders. I tried to stay with him but I couldn't. At least I was hopeful at this point that I didn't see anyone from my category sneaking up yet. I later looked at my garmin and realized there was only about 4 miles of the race left so I put down a harder surge just to get this over with. So I pedaled steadier and saw Tommy coming back to me. I rode up to him and passed him as he told me he just fell and wasn't doing too well. I tried to get him to come with me but soon after he dropped back and I never saw him again. With one last lackluster effort I capped the last climb and hit the road to the finish and ended the pain in 1:44. I figure I did a 32, 35, then 37 min lap. Not too bad but they should have been more consistent if all was going well.

After all was said and done I was fairly satisfied with the result. With all going against me I still had rode pretty well and kept the shiny side up. The last few races I've found myself surfing more dirt than I would have liked and that's a good day all in itself. I ended up 12th out of 18 and took home some cash as well. So I got my hard workout, a good kick in the nutz, and a few bucks and hopefully some efforts that will benefit me in 2 weeks at the W101. That's the priority. We shall see!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stewart Super Six Pack Recap

First off...let me say that the best strategy - well it's not really a strategy at all - is to not take a week completely off the bike and eat and drink everything in sight. Bad idea. Since this race wasn't my A race I was ok with this setup but as a competitor it still bothered me somewhat. My plane landed Saturday night after a week of lounging and getting fat in the Florida Keys and with absolutely no preparation I headed to the race Sunday morning. No hydration + getting 4 hours of restless sleep + no day before openers + stressing out as I had no food for the race = things could have gone better. Sometimes the best races happen when the prep isn't spot on, and sometimes it reminds you exactly why the wheels completely fell off.

So the race goes off and I find myself in the lead group of 5 and with Roger Foco getting a flat it soon goes down to 4, and then Dan Sturm loses a bottle and drops back so now it's down to Brian Shernce, James Harmon, and myself. So we all chat a bit and decide to work together to keep the gap opening and fight it out later. Each of us were taking turns where we were stronger and it worked well. If one of us bobbled, we waited, regrouped, and kept on it. That was great as I hit the ground hard twice as I was in the lead. So this strategy worked well for the first 5 laps until I started the dreaded yo-yo in the back. The heat, lack of prep, and the pace popped me off the back of the lead group. Brian and James would have to battle it out. It was great riding with those guys as it was great pacing, motivation, and company out there.

So after lap 5 I went into limp mode. I was still putting down power and riding ok but I knew I was on the downswing. My body just had enough. For not riding the week before my hands hurt, my feet hurt, my back hurt, oh and on lap 3 I got stung between the eyes and that added to the day's fun. I could just tell I was not on my game today. It was only a matter of time until I fell off the pace. I was kinda hoping the weather would take out the other two but that's not how it played out. My lines were sloppy and I felt like I hadn't been on a mountain bike in a month, nevermind a week. My focus went to holding a decent(although not fast at that point) pace so that no one could creep up from behind. I figured at this point I had put in enough work so that the gap was big enough and I wouldn't have to worry too badly. It didn't help when shortly into lap 7 my tire started getting soft and I knew I'd have to stop. I aired it up once with my co2 but it went flat again shortly after. So a tube would have to go in. I already was feeling sluggish and now this would slow me down even more. Especially since I aired it up too high and it was really rough on the back but it was a calculated as I didn't want to risk any more flats

So I rolled in at 6:41 completing 8 laps and 80 miles and pretty satisfied with a 3rd place finish. I actually went home and did a recovery ride so that with the morning warmup and recovery I would have 100 miles on the day. I realize I am sick in the head... I really did pretty well given the circumstances and with how I felt later in the race. All in all not a bad day really. I'll just have to relax and recoup and get back on my game for the next one. Next up is the Bulldog Rump and the Wilderness 101 which I want to destroy.