Monday, April 26, 2010

Le Tour de Tick recap

This weekend was the first race of the 2010 season in the Midwest Fat Tire Championship series; the Tour de Tick.  I was a little nervous about making the hour and a half drive to Neosho because it had been raining in Springfield for the last 3 days and I really didn't want to do another mud-bog race like St. Joe.  But Gary Lowden, the race promoter, was posting regular updates on facebook that the trails were in good shape so I decided I'd rather drive and not race than not drive and miss a good one.  It was a good decision.

We arrived about an hour before the sport/expert start time of 12:30 and there were quite a few cars packing the parking lot and lining the road.  It wasn't a HUGE crowd but it was respectable and more than I expected.  I recognized a lot of faces but there were a lot of people from Arkansas and Oklahoma as well.

I registered for the Expert 35+ class.  As experts we would be doing 4 laps around the roughly 6 mile course (sports would do 3).  There were about 5 other riders in my class and maybe 6 riders in the Expert Open class.  The rest were all in the various Sport classes.  We took off 1 minute after the Expert Open crowd and I was in second when we hit the singletrack.  I decided to try something different for this race; I was going to go as hard as I could the entire time just to see what happened.

Once on the trail, we were going really fast and sliding in all the corners.  The trail was not muddy, but it was wet and with the loose rock, avoiding the drifting was impossible.  About 2 miles in, I made a move and passed a guy named Chris to move into the lead for our class and was able to put a pretty good gap on him.  Then I started catching the Expert Open riders and passed them all except Dan Miller and Jon Schottler. They are two really fast guys out of Columbia and I expected them to finish 1/2 overall.  To my surprise, I found them both on the side of the trail fixing flats about a mile from the end of the first lap.

I finished the first lap at around 30 minutes, grabbed a full bottle of Hammer HEED and headed out for the second lap.  My tactic of going all out was working.  I was breathing hard and really working the whole time.  The second lap was pretty good.  I had Chris catch up to me which surprised me because I felt like I was riding really well, but I was able to pull away without getting passed. 

I finished the second lap at around 30 minutes, grabbed another bottle of HEED and went out for the third feeling pretty good.  On one of the sweeping left turns I was going at full speed when my front wheel hit some kind of a dip in the trail and launched me in the air.  Since I was leaning into the turn, the wheel came down well into the grass on the inside of the trail and even though I pulled it out, it scared the crap out of me.  Then, on a hill climb a couple miles into the lap, Chris caught back up to me again.  I grabbed my bottle at the top of the hill and he made his move passing me very quickly.  I tried to cage the bottle quickly so I could take off after him and instead dropped it.  I needed it so I stopped, grabbed it and when I got going again Chris had put a pretty big gap between us.  I didn't let him get away and could still see him on the straight-aways when about 1 mile from the end of the lap, I went over a log obstacle and punctured my front tire on something on the other side.  It was in the middle of the tread and it was spewing Stan's everywhere.  I stopped and let the Stan's seal the hole, but when I started riding again it opened back up.  I tried to seal it 2 more times before I decided to put a tube in.  I was carrying 1 tube and 1 can of Big Air. I got the tire off pretty quickly and checked for thorns before putting in the tube.  I found 1 thorn so I removed it, threw in the tube and mounted the tire back up.  While I was doing this Dan Miller and 3 or 4 other expert open guys flew by, but no-one in my class.  When I got the tire inflated and back on the bike, I was still sitting in second place in my class, but the leader was now a long way away.  I rode as hard as I could for the rest of the lap.

I finished the third lap in around 38 minutes, grabbed my last bottle of HEED and headed out for my last lap.  On the same sweeping turn that I almost wrecked on the previous lap, I hit the same spot and the exact same thing happened, barely escaping what would surely be sudden death,  or at least that's what it felt like.  The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful.  I passed a couple of the people that had gone by while I was fixing my flat and I finished the lap in 30 minutes in second place in my class and several spots back in the overall.

The post-race get-together was a good time and I'm pretty happy with the day.  I felt like I rode really well and I'm bummed that I wasn't able to duke it out for the win but it's just one race and I made enough cash to cover the entry fee plus some gas.  

Here's a link to my Garmin data.

Here's a link to the results.

Next up is Syllamo's Revenge this weekend.   Can't wait.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pain-Free Cycling

Got a link to this article from A&B Cycles facebook page.  I've been having some pain on the back of my right knee and the linked article suggests it could be caused by having my seat too high.  I lowered it a bit and I think it's getting better so I thought I'd help spread the word.

I really need to get a professional bike fit one of these days.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bone Bender recap

This Sunday was the 2nd annual Bone Bender 3/6 hour mountain bike race at the Smithville Lake MTB trails in Paradise MO.  It was the first event in the United Federation of Dirt's endurance league.

The day started early with a 4:30 alarm but when I arrived at the race site with Jesse, Lori and Chris an hour before the 10 am start time I was feeling good and ready to race.  There were a TON of people milling around and the whole place had a big time vibe to it.  I was actually looking forward to getting started.

Since I pre-registered online getting my race packet was a breeze and it seemed like the time between arriving and toeing the line for the LeMans start flew by.  There were 89 people doing the solo 6 hour race with everyone else divided up between the 3 hour and team events.

Here I am at the start after running on the beach (the closest I'd be to Jeff Winkler until the race was over):
I got a good start and made it to the singletrack in the top 15 or so.  The race course was mostly singletrack with short connecting sections of paved trail.  The dirt was completely dry and the riding on the first lap was crowded and fast.  If someone allowed a gap to form in front of them they were quickly passed by several people.  I really like riding wheel to wheel at the start of races.  Once you get into the flow people are chatting about conditions, how many laps we're going to do or whatever and it's just a lot of fun.  There were a few sections of the trail I didn't like, where we were on the side of a hill with VERY rocky/sketchy conditions but for the most part the course was fun with many twists and turns.  It seemed like just when you'd get up to speed there would be an S turn thrown at you.  I settled in at a pretty good pace and finished the first lap in under an hour.  They used a color code for the number plates so you could tell who the other 6 hour solo riders were; I only needed to worry about the green ones.  At the end of the lap there was a 2 way section of paved trail so you could easily see how far ahead of you the next rider was.

For the race I mixed several 1 hour bottles of hammer perpetuem and endurolyte so I just pulled over and grabbed a full bottle out of my cooler at the beginning of each lap.  That meant I only had to stop for a few seconds.

On the second lap the crowd started thinning out and I found myself riding alone most of the time.  On one of the deep ditch crossings when I hit the bottom my seat shifted where the nose came up a half inch or so.  It wasn't that big of a change but the sensation threw me off for awhile and I found myself standing up much more than usual.  I could have fixed it at the end of the lap but I didn't want to spend the time on it and just left it alone.

Here are some pictures of me on the 2 way section of paved trail near the end of the lap:
On the third lap I started catching some of the lapped riders which made the race quite a bit more challenging.  When you are traveling at a higher rate of speed you can catch people off guard and it makes passing cleanly a little tricky.  A couple times I saw people wreck trying to get off the trail so I could pass.   One guy came to a stop on the downhill side of the trail, didn't un-clip and flopped over.   He wasn't hurt, just embarrassed.  After the 3 hour riders finished the trail got much less crowded and it became more about refueling and concentrating on going as hard as I could and not letting me turn the day into a casual ride.

The end of the 5th and start of the 6th lap was the hardest; I wasn't feeling very energetic and my lower back was aching quite a bit.  I was having to sit up on the paved sections to give my back a break.  During that time I was passed by Kip Biese and I was struggling to keep him in sight.  I REALLY didn't want to do 7 laps and I knew I'd be finishing the 6th lap right around the 6 hour mark and I decided that if I finished under 6 hours I'd go out if I was within a few minutes of the rider in front of me; otherwise I'd wait to see what the rider after me was going to do.  About 3 or 4 miles into the 6th lap I got a surge of energy and started feeling really good.  The rest of the lap was fun and I finished strong pulling to within a few seconds of Kip to finish the 6 laps in 6 hours and 18 seconds.  That was good enough for 4th overall out of the 6 hour solo crowd and 3rd in the 35+ class.

Here's the podium shot:
After the race I felt pretty wiped out.  It's funny how you can go from feeling fine while riding to feeling like crap once you stop.  The post-race festivities were fun, it's always great to get to hang out with other riders and the post-race steak at Long Horn Steakhouse was delicious!

Thanks to Cowtown cycling and all the earth riders crew for building such great trails and putting on such a great race.  I had a blast and I'll be back.

Here's a link to the results:

Here's a link to my Garmin data (ignore the lap times; it was set to auto lap and it kept getting confused):

The pictures in this post were taken from the following photo galleries:

This weekend I'll be at Tour de Tick and then Syllamo's Revenge!

UPDATE:  The results with lap times have been posted.  Here were my splits:

  1. 0:58:15
  2. 0:57:33
  3. 0:57:48
  4. 1:00:45
  5. 1:03:06
  6. 1:02:51

Not bad.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bone Bender

Well, I've had a pretty good break since Ouachita and it's a good thing; I'll be racing the next 5 weekends.  First up this Sunday I'm registered in the 6 hour solo class for Bone Bender at Smithville Lake Trails in Paradise, MO.  It's part of the United Federation of Dirt endurance league.  I've never ridden the trails there but from what I've heard it should be fun. 

The weather looks to be just about perfect and I'm looking forward to the race.  I'll be traveling with several people from Springfield and I expect there will be a good turnout.

On another note, Saturday I was riding at Little Sac when I got a stick caught in the spokes of my rear wheel.  The stick broke 2 spokes and bent a third before I could get stopped.  After a long walk back to the car I went to A&B Cycle to see if they would be able to fix the wheel before this weekends race.  The spokes are DT aerolite's and A&B needed to order them.  Not only did they order them, they had them sent overnight, and the wheel was fixed on Tuesday.  That is very cool, but the coolest thing is they didn't charge me for it.  That's service you don't get when you buy your stuff online.  Support your LBS!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Recovery tools

I work out every day.  I either get outside to ride my bike, go to my noon spin class or lift weights.  Sadly this takes a toll on my body and I'm often sore; especially the day after a hard workout.  So I've decided to do a post about the stuff I use to keep going.

Since I'm not able to regularly visit a professional massage therapist, I think The Stick and a Foam Roller are the next best thing.  They are both great ways to work out knots and muscle soreness.  I use them every evening along with a general stretching routine.  I also use a Valeo Body Ball with some of the stretches.  As far as deciding which stretches and exercises to do I refer you to The Mountain Biker's Training Bible by Joe Friel; it's an excellant book.  Joe's also got a really good blog you should add to your RSS reader:

For a daily multivitamin I take Hammer Nutrition Premium Insurance Caps.  It's like 7 pills a day which seems like a lot, but I've had really good luck with Hammer products in general and I think these are the best all around supplement.