Sunday, April 21, 2013

H2H #1 Blue Mountain Chainstretcher

This race is always one of my favorites. The amount of rock and techy goodness there really keeps me entertained. I often have to hold back from hitting drops and other features I normally like to play on in an effort just to go fast. Sometimes it's more fun to play. Anyway I rolled up there early to see the sports go off and to see how the conditions were and as I was thinking, it was going to be fast and dry.

I did my warmup, got ready and got to the line early not knowing what to think. There's so much less room for error than my normal endurance races and I just felt scattered. Probably with the fact that I couldn't find my co2 inflators and had to carry a bulky hand pump made me extra confident...not. Anyway I was in for the workout. I wanted to see how I would stack up and feeling ok it would be a good test of the legs and equipment.

The race director says go and we're off. I hit it hard and somehow grab 2nd wheel into the first uphill. Unfortunately right off the batt I forgot to unlock my lockout so I was thrown off my line and into a bunch of stuff that I didn't want to be in. I popped off my lockout and shifted and tried to regain the position I had. So with that I went from second wheel to 5th wheel. I was ok with that.

Through the first lap I had the Cannondale guy and Rich W in my sights and was hanging with them just a little ways back. I know blue pretty well and at that point I knew I needed more time to warm up. I was hoping later in the race they may fall back and I could benefit and gain some positions. That strategy went out the window when my front tire went soft. I rode it for a little bit and then knew I had to pull over and pump it up. Yes pump it up. That archaeic old pump I carrie actually was put to use. I jumped off, threw the pump on it, cheered on John and Ross as they passed begrudgingly, popped the pump back in my pocket and took off.

Within 2 miles I had worked my way back through John and then passed Ross. I was feeling pretty good and kept looking for the colors of the racers ahead. There was another problem though...the pumped up tire was still not holding air. I could feel it was deflating. In each turn it tracked wrong and felt it getting soft every time I placed the front down over a log. Crap... I didn't want to pull over again.

I kept going on the second lap just being cautious and it was soft but holding. I was still holding my gap to Ross behind and didn't see anyone ahead. I just told myself to ride smoothly to preserve the tire and go fast. I seemed to do just that. It had enough pressure to keep me upright while still being a bit too squishy. I rolled across the finishe line with my tire at about 10 psi and holding onto that 4th spot. I was in 5th but one of the racers ahead had to stop to fix his flat so I gained another position right there. This was great! I was happy with 5th, but 4th? I'll take it! Super stoked and feeling good I wish we had to race a few more laps - well that is if I could have had a non-deflating tire.

Thanks go out to the Blue crew for putting together a great race and using some superb trails. It was a bit of a chilly day, but the crowd was good and there was a lot of great racing going on in the hills of Peeskill yesterday.

Monday, April 8, 2013

6 Hours of Warrior Creek - The Race

It was a perfect race day. Cool in the morning but warmed up to the mid 70's later in the day under full sun. Wow...this was much welcomed after the cold and long winter in Northern Jersey. This race is tough since everyone goes at once and there is a good showing of duo guys amongst the solos. So it's hard to figure out who you are actually racing against. As it were we showed up for the prerace meeting at what was thought to be the starting line - and it wasn't. So we had to all move to the actual starting line which put me in like the 4th row. I wasn't happy with that so I knew I'd have to put in a good effort to get around the traffic and into a better spot for the singletrack.

I used my gas to get through a lot but I still hit the singletrack in 20-25th spot. I put in a good hard first lap but traffic, a few crashes in front of me, and throwing my chain into my wheel twice didn't help. I had to stop and wrestle it out of the wheel both times, regain my composure and catch back on, remember not to use my biggest cog, and try to get back to where I was. I rode super steady the first 3 laps and then knew I was running low on juice so I had to pull it back a bit.

As the laps went on I was feeling the power decrease but my spirits were lifted by the guys I was riding with. I was pulling a few trains of people here and there and I asked if they wanted to come through they said no. They were just trying to hold my wheel and I was fine with that. I just rode steady and hard and picked the climbs and fun parts to hit hard and just tried to relax for the rest.

I finished super solid and happy with how I rode on such a fun but tough course. I was even more excited to see that I finished 3rd. I've been close to the podium the past few tries at this race and now I finally got there. It was a great feeling especially knowing all that I'd been through with the break in on the way down.

6 Hours of Warrior Creek - The D-Bags...Part 1

This race is always a highlight of the season as the weather seems to be nice when the winter is wrapping up in the North. This year seemed like it might not work out that way. As I started out my drive I heard reports of an inch plus of rain plus an inch of snow on the ground near the course. I just hoped it would clear up for race day since that clay would not be fun in the rain or if really sloppy.

So my buddy Lucky and I headed down Thursday afternoon with plans on making it as far as Roanoke for the night and then an easy drive into Wilkesboro Friday morning. It was a great plan but I didn't want to forego riding Thursday just to drive. With this in mind I came up with the plan to ride Michaux State Forest and do a good portion of the Curse of Dark Hollow 20 mile course. I thought that might work well since Michaux is really techy and hard while the 6WC course would be super fast and flowy in comparison.

The ride went great, as it was fun bumping through the state forest and went a little long as we came out just after crossing the 2 hour mark. Then came the real fun. As we approached my car, my rear driver's side window was smashed in and all of the contents in the back of the car were gone. Camping gear, cycling gear, laptop, work bag, work keys, regular clothes, and all of the other contents gone. After making a list it's probably around 6k worth of items of mine gone alone. Lucky had all of his stuff taken as well which was probably about the same value. The part that hurts the most is that there is not much stuff that can be resold. The electronics, jewelry, and some other stuff for sure but all that clothing and cycling clothing that is so value and near and dear to me is gone. I kept every option I had in my cycling bag so that I was prepared for anything. It's gone...

With this totally screwing up our trip and our heads we filed the police report, sorted through the goods to see what was left and headed home with nothing. Well close to nothing. Thankfully the thieves weren't that thorough as they left our wallets that they missed so we didn't have to go through the headaches of dealing with replacing all of that stuff. We still couldn't press on with nothing though.

So we went back towards Harrisburg PA and stopped for dinner as we were just driving in a fog. I couldn't wrap my head around anything and hadn't eaten since noon. It was now about 7 so it was time to stop. We ate and contemplated our decision. Home or not? Was it even possible to press on? We would have to stop somewhere and buy everything. We didn't have camp gear, or clothes to make the race happen. We at least needed that and couldn't justify buying everything. Then I called Dan. Enter Mr. Dan Rapp. He lives just outside of H'burg and said to stop by. Hell even if it was just to chat and then go home. We chilled for a while and then gave us the pep talk. He said he's got everything we need if we want it. Camp gear. Clothes. Food. Whatever... On top of that enter Mr. Brent Lester. Through this Brent was doing the same from a long distance. Brent extended the same from Greensboro and said as long as we made it down there he would help us out. I couldn't believe the support. With all this how could we not go. With a little coercing Lucky and I decided to head back south and not let these Ahole thieves ruin our trip.

So thanks to Hotel Rapp, we crashed on Dan's couch and regrouped. Up in the morning with his awesome family, we packed the car full of our loaner gear and hit the road. With all that Dan gave us, and that Brent was bringing for us we felt like we could pull this off. We still had to pull off and hit up some stores to make sure we had the other necessities like toilettries(that I just bought that were stolen too), clothes, and underwear(yes that was stolen too). It was a lot of bumps and it make for one hell of a long ride down but we made it to NC and were ready to settle into camp and relax for the race the next morning. It was a little hard to relax but we did the best we could given the circum stances and just hoped the race would go a little better.