Sunday, September 30, 2012

VT50 Recap

Man this is a hard race. Over 9k of climbing in 50 miles and you feel every pedal stroke on this sucker. Good thing for lights on the first 30 mins. Man it's dark and the group is going REALLY hard. W/out lights would be tough. I sat in 7th place for the first hour or so and then a couple got through me and dangled in front of me for a LONG time. About 2.5 hours in 2 more got by as my legs were checking out for the day. I kept on it but just didn't have a ton of juice. There's a lot of short steep ups in this race that really give your legs a beating. I was happy to keep a steady pace and checkout the beautiful scenery. A few more got through in the last 10 miles or so but I just kept on putting the pedals down hard and driving forward. I tried to jump on their wheels and use them for motivation but no such luck. I was able to hold a decent pace just not as high as the others.

I crossed the line in 4:45 in 14th place overall and 6th place in my age group. I'm pretty satisfied for how flat my legs felt on the second half. Great race and SOOOOOO much climbing. It's basically one really hard set of hill repeats for the entire 50 miles. I can't believe some of the stuff I rode up but I rode it all. The 5 hour ride home was a little tough but it's good to be home.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Westwood Velo CX Report

This was an absolute shit show. The further I get away from this race the more comical it becomes and I can't believe how bad it was.

From the gun I line up second row behind Dag and know he sets a good pace so I should have a solid start. The horn blows and we all go out hot. For some reason Dag slips back and our wheels overlap and not in a good way. I have to put a foot down hard and someone smashes into me from the left. The result was me tubling on the ground only 50 feet into the race. Great.

I picked up my battered bike and fixed the hoods. Both were bent inward. After I got them straightened out I had to straighten my bars as they were knocked crooked and I couldn't race like that. Then once that was done I had to put my chain back on. Yes really. So with all of this I had a minute plus gap to cover right from the start. I refused to get frustrated and stayed composed and just rode.

Lap by lap I passed one, then another, then another. I was doing good but taking my time to get through the field. With 25+ riders it would take a bit and I'd have to plan my moves carefully. I rode steady and soon found myself 4 laps or so in sitting in 11th position. I was riding very well and I had some good motivation and my sights set on those other riders close ahead.

Well it wasn't to be. On lap 5 I came through one of the mud pits and caught something sharp as it sliced my tubular open and wouldn't seal. Later I found that it was a 3/8" slice that was too big to seal. So I rode the flat carefully to the pit and swapped bikes. I lost a position in the change and rode hard to get it back. So during the next lap I just get the position back and start charging hard to get the gap opened to go after those ahead. Well after 1/2 a lap and the gap opening I start to hear a noise with each revolution of the rear wheel. I tap my brakes behind me to fix the calipers as I figured I'd hit them and they were just rubbing the wheel...nope. The tire was actually coming off the rim. Around the next turn the tube blows out and unseats the tire and tube. Really? Are you serious???

Yup. I was now almost to the finish for the bell lap and I had no bike to ride that actually worked and I wasn't even near the pit anyway. A DNF never entered my mind. I did look around the course for a sec to see if the leader was near to sit up and let him pass so I could finish quicker but he was nowhere in sight. The choice was clear. I wrapped the tube and tire on my chest and ran the lap and a 1/4 to get to the finish line. It was rough and hard but I wouldn't give up. I actually rode a lot of the grass with no tire as it kinda worked but every time I got to the gravel or pavement I picked it up and ran. Yea it was that kind of day.

In the end I got to the finish with my bike on my shoulder and the applause of the C race that was starting after mine. It was hard and very unlucky but I wouldn't give up. One way or another I was going to finish this damn race. Like I said laughable. The official results said 24 of 24 but I think there was at least one that had a mechanical and DNF'd so either way it was a victory. How bad can a race go? It can go this badly! Hopefully all of my mechanicals for the season are done with.

Kirkland CX Report

I had to be in the Adirondacks for this weekend helping close down my family's summer house so why not use it as an excuse to find a cross race to do. Kirkland CX was the answer. I rolled into the town park and noticed some nice elevation change to start. A bit more than most other CX courses I've done. I thought that was great as I can usually power up those hills pretty nicely. I did a preride lap and warmed up well and switching from endurance to CX I had very little to expect but hopefully just a solid performance.

We took off from the line pretty hot and I quickly assumed the 6th position. I was close to 5th place and hung tight to plan my pass. Around the first lap I took it cautious and rode a solid pace. I hit the feared runup well and cruised through the sandpit so I thought it would be a good day. As I approached the line for lap 1 I attacked and passed 5th place and kept on the gas hoping it would stick. It did. I then focused on 4th place. Dangling just ahead for the entire race. One lap I would close the next lap the gap opened. Rinse and repeat. I just couldn't get the gas to get close enough to make a move and that's how it stayed for the whole race.

Looking back at results I rode very solidly as all laps were within 10 seconds of each other which I'm very happy about. So I cruised across the line not too far behind 4th - 34 seconds - and took the 5th spot of 11. I was very happy as it seemed to be a solid field and I put down a great effort. Hopefully it's a sign of a good CX season to come.

Shenandoah Mountain 100 Recap

Since I was accused of falling off of the face of the earth last night...I thought I should go ahead and update some of my race info. :-)

The SM100 was a great time and such a cool venue as usual. This was my 4th time doing the race and it's just such an enjoyable time that it keeps me coming back for more. As of late though I wish it were earlier in the season so I could really hit it hard as I feel burnt by the time this race comes around. Either way it was good for another attempt.

On my preride my legs felt flat so I knew it might be a bad day on race day. Well the horn goes off the next morning and I roll with the lead group until the first few hills and let them go. I'm not sure if it was the lack of warmup or the flat legs but I just didn't think it would pay to dig that hard at that moment so I letup and just rode a steady pace. That was probably a good strategy as it would keep me fresher for the miles to come.

Up the first climb and into the first singletrack in the top 30 or so all was going well until I hear the hissing of my back tire that just got sliced open on a greasy rock. Great. I spun it to get the stans to seal but no luck. I ripped it apart, put some duct tape on the hole from the inside and threw a tube in all while watching probably 100+ racers pass me by. That was the depressing part.

So after the tire was all aired up I jumped in the line of riders and took off...well not really. It was the conga line from hell. Everyone being slow and cautious and not knowing how to ride up a hill. Every time the terrain pitched up everyone got off and walked. Really??? So I got pissy and called out and rode up through what I could to try and gain some positions. It was a lot of hurry up and wait. There were just no good spots to pass that many people so I had to pick them off one at a time. Even on the downhills everyone was sitting in line and grabbing their brakes. Again...really?

Out to the next fire road - I jumped on the gas and rode pretty angrily. Knowing the leaders were MILES ahead was not a kind thought. All I wanted to do was catch and pass anyone in sight. I did pretty well and passed probably 50+ on this road section and headed into the next climb. Again only to sit in line and wait to pass or walk as I couldn't get through. Totally frustrating. On the next fireroad I got a bunch more and then just settled in as the crowds were dwindling down. I was getting closer to where I belonged but still at a huge disadvantage. I had to save some juice for what lie ahead since I was putting down a big effort to make up lost ground.

The next few hills went well but I just knew I was far behind the race. The hill after aid 3 usually kills me and I rode it pretty well. Still in traffic I kept on and rode the best I could. Then into the soul crusher I had all kinds of thoughts back to last year when I could barely pedal in granny gear. It was not going to happen this year. I put down a good pace and tried to make up some more spots on this climb which I did and topped it pretty well looking forward to the finish.

Then with a little bit of motivation, the weather sucked the life out of it. It had been raining a good part of the morning and now getting to the 16 meadows(or whatever it is) the trail just turned awful. It was just mudpuddles and sloppy trails as far as the eye could see. I was really trying to make up time and this was not going to help. It was miserable. At this point I gave up hope a little as it was just so hard with everything happening at once. Crappy legs - flat tire setback - and now the rain to make everything even worse. It was not going to be a PR or a great day overall but at least I'd get to the finish.

So after rolling through the slop for a long time I finally hit the last few uneventful sections and made my way back to the campground. As I was on one of the last hills I heard my garmin beep as the 9 hour mark hit. Then I just totally soft pedaled in frustration. I had the worst ride of my life last year and rode a 9:23 and now this year with some bad weather and some setbacks I'd be very close to that. It just wasn't worth pushing any harder. I was burntout. The motivation was gone and I was happy to have my mountain bike season over. At that point I just wanted to hang up the fat tires for good for 2012.

I rolled across the line at 9:13 yipee in 40th place. Disgusted and tired I was elated for it to be over. 40th really wasn't bad considering where I'd spent most of the day but I just knew that I had so much more in me and if luck went the right way the day would have been much better. That's why there's always next year I guess...