Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nixa bike ride recap

Today didn't start well.  I planned on getting up at 5, having a nice bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and arriving in Nixa well before the ride's 7am start time.  Those plans fell apart when I jumped out of bed a little after 6, dressed as quickly as possible, mixed my perpetuem, made a cup of coffee, loaded the bike and was somehow on the road by 6:35.  I arrived at the staging area about 10 minutes before the start; plenty of time.

There were TONS of people there for the ride and during the slow roll out, I met up with Dennis Rathke, spoke for a bit with Cale McAninch, and generally stood out being the only person on a mountain bike.  I stayed in the lead pack for the first few miles but once we got on the rolling hills of the highway, I started drifting back.  My legs weren't warmed up yet and I was feeling it in my hamstrings.

A little later I fell in with a couple other riders and was able to draft and build my speed back up.  There was a rider that wrecked on a curve right before the second aid station.  Dennis had stopped to make sure the wrecked guy was okay and that allowed me to catch up.  I rode the rest of the day with Dennis.  We'd pick up another rider from time to time, but we worked together and I had a really good time.

The ride took us to Aurora where we turned around and doubled back quite a ways before turning and going through Republic and back to Nixa.  For most of the ride I had NO IDEA where I was, but Dennis has been riding those roads for years and gave me a heads up whenever we were approaching a sharp turn or big climb.

I got a great workout and we finished the 70 miles in just over 4 hours.

The post-ride Buckinghams BBQ was great and really hit the spot.

It was a beautiful day for a ride and I'm really glad I went.  The aid stations were very well stocked and staffed with friendly, helpful people.  Good job St. Johns!

Now I've got to put some knobby tires back on my bike so I can hit the trails tomorrow.

A&B is having a demo day and BBQ at Sac!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nixa bike ride

I haven't done a 4+ hour ride or race in a few weeks so was planning on spending quite a bit of time on the bike this weekend when I found out about the Nixa bike ride this Saturday.

I signed up for the 70 miler and last night put some semi-slicks on my epic.  I won't be able to keep up with faster roadies but hopefully will find a group I can hang with.  I intend to push myself pretty hard.  The worst part is the 7am start but it's supposed to be in the 80s by mid-day so that might be a good thing.

The good people at A&B Cycle offered to let me demo an S-Works Tarmac during the ride, but last time I did that I bought one.  I'll stick with the Epic.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rhetts Run cop-out

Normally in this space you see my race recap from the weekends activities.  Not this time; I didn't do the race.   I planned to do the race and I really wanted to do the race, but common sense prevailed and I stayed on the sidelines for this one.

I was in the Columbia area from Thursday to Sunday.  On Thursday I stopped by Cosmo park (site of the race) and tried to ride some of the trails.  They had standing water from a recent rain so I decided I'd come back Saturday for a pre-ride.

On Friday I drove up to Kirksville to ride the 13 miles of trail at Thousand Hills state park.  The trails there were way too muddy and I couldn't cross the lake spillway so I ended up riding around the paved section of the park for an hour.  The beavers didn't want me to ride the trails either:

On Saturday I went to Cosmo and rode the race course a couple times in the rain.  It wasn't a downpour but when I was finished this is what my bike and I looked like:
The trails were not fun to ride and I knew they wouldn't get any better once 50 or so people started churning it up.  During the ride I talked to the race promoter who was there marking the course.  He sounded upbeat about the race and was hoping for a decent turnout.  I just decided I didn't want to take the chance of breaking anything trying to ride those conditions at race speed.

I went to the race Sunday to watch and think I made the right decision.  I left when it started raining.

Next race is the Down and Dirty in Warsaw Mo in 3 weeks.  I've got some training goals to keep me busy in the mean time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Greensfelder Challenge race recap

This weekend was the Greensfelder Challenge; the second race in the UFD West cross-country series.  It took place on the east side of Greensfelder County Park and consisted of 3 laps around an 8 mile course.  The race was set up as a fundraiser for GORC who builds and maintains mountain biking trails in the St. Louis area.

The weather was great for racing; low 60's and mostly sunny.  There was a huge turnout drawing riders from the eastern, central and southern part of the state; I registered for the 30-39 Cat 1 (expert) class and it was packed with lots of talented fast guys.  I had no real expectations going into the race, having never ridden the course and knowing who the competition was, but I wanted to ride well and I was once again reunited with my old nemesis Rock Wamsley.

When the race started, the 15 people in my class took off on a short section of pavement leading to the single track.  I was in the second row and was in about 10th place when we got to the trail.  It was not a very good start for me and after a long technical rocky decent the accordion effect started on the switchback climbs where you bunch up approaching a turn then sprint out of it.  I didn't really warm up prior to the race and I was feeling pretty crappy on the climbs.  I had Rock right behind me and I felt like I was holding him up so I told him to go on by.  I hated to do that but I didn't want to screw up his race.
(picture of me, Rock and Ira Brown)

It was a pretty tough course.  It had some really fast rocky descents, some nice flowy sections with pockmarked trails, good big ring flat doubletrack, a short rocky hike-a-bike section and some LONG doubletrack climbs.  There were not many places where you could let up and recover.

I passed a couple people on the climbs near the end of the first lap finishing it in 43:06.  Eventually I started getting my legs back and attacked the second lap pretty hard.  I was riding really well when on a switchback climb I encountered Ryan Pritle, Dan Miller and Rock stopped on the side of the trail while people on horses slowly rode by.  I only had to stop for a few seconds and when we got going I passed Rock going up the hill and while Ryan and Dan started to pull away I was able to keep them in my sights.  I finished the second lap in 44:11.

I spent most of the third and final lap chasing Dan and running from Rock.  Dan let me by at the top of one of the downhills near the end of the lap and I was able to catch and pass Cale McAninch on one of the last hills.  Dan was riding well but a mechanical problem was keeping him out of his big ring so he couldn't keep up on the flats leading to the finish line.  As I approached the end of the lap I saw Ryan Pritle and was somehow able to chase him down and pass him right before the end of the race.  I felt bad for making a pass that close to the end, but he saw me coming and that's racing.  The time on my third lap was 43:36 for an overall time of 2:10:54.  (here's a link to my Garmin data).  Somehow I managed to squeeze out a 6th place class and overall finish about 20 seconds behind Bob Arnold.  Here's a link to the results.

I think with a better start (and a pre-race warmup) I could have done better, but who's to say Bob or anyone else wouldn't have gone harder if I had been breathing down their necks.  Besides the "what if's" I'm pretty happy with the results considering the competition and I've got lot's of motivation to train harder and get better.

The payout went to the top 9 finishers and they all came from my class.  That's pretty cool.

GORC and DRJ Racing did a wonderful job with this race.  It was well run and the post-race food and beverages were top-notch.

Here are the photo galleries from this weekends race:Next up is a MWFTCS event;  Rhett's Run.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    2010 Syllamo's Revenge recap

    This weekend was the 6th annual Syllamo's Revenge mountain bike race near Mountain View Arkansas.  I've been looking forward to this event all year; I'm still fairly new to racing and I hear people talk about this race more than any other.  Plus I really like the trails there and wanted to see what it would be like to race all of them.

    After my 9th place finishes in the Spa City 6 hour and Ouachita Challenge and 4th at Bone Bender 6 hour I expected a top 10 finish and was hoping for a top 5.  But I counted at least 7 people on the registered rider list that I'd never beaten (and MANY I'd never seen) so it was going to be tough.

    The plan for the weekend was to arrive mid-day Friday, pre-ride the first few miles of the course, camp in Jesse's pop-up, race Saturday and drive home Saturday evening.   I didn't plan for the tornado's.

    I arrived at the Blanchard Springs recreation area/campground with Chris and his wife around 3 pm Friday and found a spot to camp.  The campground is the staging area for the race and there were already lots of people there.  As we were pulling in I spotted Dwayne Goscinski, last years winner.  He was resting.

    After setting up the camp a little, Chris and I set out for a pre-ride of the first few miles of the course.  We rode up a mile long hill that starts the race and is supposed to string out the riders, then over slippery rock that bunches them back up.  The trail was in good shape but the foliage around it was overgrown and in many places you had to ride through it and couldn't really see the trail very well.  We rode for about 45 minutes and turned around.  The trip back with the long downhill was a blast.

    After a pasta dinner in Mountain View the storms came.  Before it started raining a sheriffs car drove around the campground with his sirens on yelling "a tornado is on it's way, take shelter in the bathrooms".  So we huddled in the bathroom with lots of other people for the next hour and a half.  Luckily it only rained.

    Around 10pm the rain had stopped and Jesse, Jared and Lori FINALLY arrived with the pop-up.  While we were setting it up in the dark I didn't see a 2 foot drop-off next to the parking pad and fell off it.  I tweeked my left ankle a little but I think the boots I was wearing kept it from being worse.  We finally bedded down around 11 and I slept pretty well considering that I probably lost 5 pounds from sweat.

    I woke up at 5am and made coffee and oatmeal with a coleman stove.  It was still dark out but the temperature was great and it felt like it was going to be a really good day.

    Lori and Heather agreed to SAG for us by taking whatever we needed to the various aid station/checkpoints during the race.  I decided that instead of mixing 1 hour bottles of Hammer Perpetuem+Endurolytes Powder like I had for Ouachita I'd instead make it thick like pancake batter and fill 2 gel flasks that I could carry the entire race.  Then mix 1 bottle of water and Perpetuem+Endurolytes to get me to the first aid station where I would pick up bottles of plain water.  That way if I couldn't find the bottles Lori and Heather were leaving I could just fill the bottle I was carrying with water from the aid station.

    Registration was SUPER fast and easy.  One thing I liked was that they gave us a Hammer Gel Flask and had a table with lots of bottles of Gel to fill it up with. MUCH better than the single serving sample we usually get. They even had Espresso flavor which is my favorite.

    There were lots of riders showing up and filling the parking lot.  The time before a race is always fun.  There's an excitement in the air and everyone's pumped or nervous or just happy to get to ride their bike.  I went around and chatted with lots of the people I've met in the last year of racing.  I think the 2 best types of people are Jeepers and MTBRs.  They are different groups but share MANY qualities.  They'll tell you to suck it up if you're complaining but will give you the shirt off their back (or their only spare tire/tube) if you need it. 

    I skipped the pre-race meeting since there were lots of people heading to the starting line and I didn't want to get stuck in the back.  My plan was to be in the lead group at the top of the hill and I didn't want to have to pass the entire field to get there.   I don't know how many people made it but there were 370 people that paid.   I didn't see some of the people I expected to be battling for the win, but there were lots of good riders there and I knew I'd have to have my best race to compete with them.

    Once the race started I held my position in the upper third of the field for the short road section leading to the gravel road hill climb.  Once on the climb I began passing people, riding as hard as I could and when I turned onto the single track I was in 8th place.  The trail at the top of the hill was fast and flowy for about a mile, then there's a half mile with several hike-a-bike sections, then the trail gets much better.  I was at the back of a group with 3 other riders, all of them on single speeds.  I noticed we were starting to gap the group behind us so I started yelling encouragement to get them to ride faster, which they did.  Then we passed 2 riders wearing Specialized jerseys on the side of the trail fixing flats.  That meant we only had 2 more riders in front of us.  On one of the switch backs the leader of our group endo'd on the turn.  He jumped up but dropped off the back.  On a couple hill climbs I was yelling at my group to keep the pace up.  I wasn't trying to be an a-hole, I just wanted us to work together because when you ride in a group you keep a more consistent pace and it's usually faster than you'd do by yourself.  Then they both started waving me by.  Maybe they didn't think they could maintain the pace or they didn't like me; either way I went by and surprisingly was soon on Dwayne's tail.  We were going down the steep rocky trail that leads to the awesome lookout point (me posing there last winter on the right).  I asked Dwayne if he thought we had time to stop to check out the view and he started laughing and then he and the guy in front of him missed the turn on the trail.  A photographer there pointed it out right before I passed the turn, so I made it and all of a sudden I was in the lead (photo taken from online gallery).
    I rode the next couple of miles as hard as I could.  It was strange because I was taking out all kinds of spider webs and I kept telling myself that something wasn't right.  I shouldn't be in the lead; I was going too hard or something.

    I maintained the lead for awhile and was then passed by Wiley Mosley; he was one of the riders that was fixing a flat a few miles into the race. I was able to stay within site of Wiley all the way to the first checkpoint/aid station. When we got there I downed 2 cups of heed from the aid table, grabbed the bottle Lori had left for me and took off. As I pulled out and climbed the gravel road leading to the next section of trail I was passed by Scott Henry (the winner at Ouachita) and he asked me how far ahead the leader was. I told him about a minute and after he pulled away that's the last time I saw him.

    The trail after the first aid station was really difficult with lots of flat slippery rock and I ended up walking my bike over a lot of it since I didn't want to wreck.  Somewhere on that trail I was passed by a rider with an Arkansas jersey and finished that section in 4th.  After we passed highway 5 and the 2nd aid station I was able to catch back up to the Arkansas rider and passed him as he was walking his bike up a hill.  I was feeling pretty good and was going as fast as I could since I expected to be caught and passed by Dwayne or some other fast dude at any time.

    The climbs after the second highway 5 crossing were the hardest of the day for me.  I rode most of it but I was wearing myself out.  I was breathing so hard I was drooling on myself and my legs were dying on me.  I just kept telling myself that all I had to do was make it to the Red trail and I'd be okay.  I eventually made it to the last aid station at the start of the red loop which meant I only had 15 or so miles to go with no major climbs left.  After a fresh bottle and a couple cups of heed I took off.  One of the volunteers told me that 1st place was 4 minutes ahead and 2nd was 1 minute.   I was really only worried about not getting caught since I was in no shape to chase anyone but it was nice to know I was hanging in with the leaders.

    On the red loop I recovered quite a bit and about halfway I started to see the 2nd place rider Wiley Mosley.  A couple times I even caught him at the top of a hill climb only to lose him on the descents.  It was amazing how fast he could go downhill.  I was going as fast as I could and feeling like I was a little out of control and he kept pulling away.

    After the red loop I was out of water and ran over to the aid station for some heed; I didn't want to let Wiley get more time on me but I needed the water.  The volunteer said it was all downhill to the finish but I'm not sure he's ever ridden the mile or so of trail that was left.  I usually don't have to drop to my granny gear going downhill.  But I made it back to the road we came out on and after a THRILLING downhill ride (where my rear brakes were squealing because the pads were worn out) I finished the race in 3rd place about 30 seconds behind Wiley and 6 minutes behind the winner Scott.

    I talked to Wiley after the race about how he descended so fast and he said he simply doesn't touch the brakes.  Well, he's got a lot more skill (and guts) than I've got, that's for sure.

    The post race spaghetti was great and I had a really good time talking to the other riders.  I met some new people, caught up with others and eventually packed up and headed back to Springfield around 8pm.  Jared, Jesse and Chris all finished the race.  Here is a link to the results and here are the picture galleries I've found so far:

    A lot of people had mechanical issues and that's one reason I placed as high as I did.  But I prepared and rode well so I'm not going to give up the rock (and $50) they gave me.  I earned it.

    Thanks to the Syllamo's Revenge promoters and volunteers.  It was a great race with so many friendly and helpful people I can't say enough nice things.  I'll be back next year for sure!

    Next up is Greensfelder.

    UPDATE: Here's a link to my Garmin data from the race.