Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lost Valley Luau recap

This weekend was the rescheduled Lost Valley Luau near St. Charles, MO, that's part of the United in Dirt racing series.  The race was originally scheduled on the same weekend as the Ouachita Challenge, but was postponed because of muddy conditions.

Last weekend, after the Mo State Champ race I headed out to Weldon Springs to check out the course since the only other time I'd ridden there was at the 2009 CXmas, where I didn't remember much trail.  I found a nice mixture of gravel double-track and sweet flowy singletrack that would make for a unique race.  On Saturday, the day before the race I headed back to Weldon Springs with my St. Louis neighbor Dave to get one more lap under my belt before Sunday.  The trail was in good shape with some standing water in places but it was just enough to make a mess, not slow me down.

Since I had pretty severe dehydration issues at the race the week before, I was determined to drink lots of water leading up to and during this race.  While sitting in the parking lot at the mound I downed 3 bottles of water and I took 6 bottles of water to a spot near the finish line where I could get them during the race.

The race started with all expert classes together on a wide gravel path  for about half a mile, then down a steep hill where we joined the loop course near the finish line.  Each lap started with a big gravel hill climb followed by a mile or so of gravel double-track before turning onto fairly new singletrack.  That lasted a couple miles, then a good downhill, a couple more miles of doubletrack, a mile or so of fairly technical singletrack and another mile of nice flat trail to the finish line.  Basically a very fast course. 

On the first hill climb a lead pack broke away and at the top of the first hill climb I found myself in a small group behind them with Drew Black and Tom Albert.  We rode pretty fast, pace-line style with Drew doing much of the initial pulling.  We reeled in Dan Miller who was riding a single-speed and he hung on until we reached the first section of single track.  At that point we caught up to another rider that had fallen off the lead pack and he rode with us for a while.  He went down in a turn but jumped up and only lost a few positions.  At that point it was Drew, Tom, Dan, unknown guy and me.  On a climb leading to the pine trees the dude who is currently nameless let me by and fell back off the pace.  We then had a really fast downhill and started the second section of doubletrack.  I was behind Dan and he was letting a gap develop between us and Drew/Tom so I passed him expecting him to hang with me but I think the spinning on the singlespeed was getting to him and he fell back.   That left me, Dew and Tom to take turns pulling for a couple miles.  I find it truly amazing how much of a difference there is between riding in the lead (or alone) vs. riding in someones draft.  It literally felt like I was coasting when tucked in behind the other riders, and when I went to the front I was working my ass off.  It was a blast.  On the last section of singletrack Drew got a flat so that left just Tom and I.  When we got to the flat trail that finishes the lap I let Tom pull a little longer than I should have but when we got to the end of the lap I felt totally refreshed and ready to hammer up the hill.

I grabbed my 2nd bottle and rode as hard as I could up the hill, expecting to work with Tom on the gravel section ahead but when I looked back he wasn't there so I rode on by myself.  I went as fast as I could and felt pretty strong on both the flats and singletrack.  The only issue on that lap was encountering an angry hissing snake in the middle of the trail after rounding a turn.  It scared the crap out of me; it was rared back and jumped at me as I rode by.  I unclipped and raised my feet in the air, but it took several minutes before I calmed down.

After grabbing my 3rd bottle and chugging up the hill on the final lap I just focused on maintaining a good pace and picking good lines in the single-track.  I passed a few lapped riders but I didn't catch anyone from that lead pack that got away on the first lap.

I finished in 2:07:22 in 7th place overall and 4th in my age group.  Here's a link to the results (not fully updated as of press time);

Here's my garmin data from the day:

Next up is the Brommelsiek Challenge this Sunday in St. Charles.  Supposed to be a flat "dirt-crit" style course that will reward the bike handlers.  That's not my strength, but we'll see how I do.  If it's like last year's Cape Race I might be in trouble.


  1. I haven't ridden Brommesiek in a year, but I don't remember it being flat, or dirt crit like. No big hills, but it's a fast, flowy, fun course with a mixture of forest and field with creek crossings and some shorter hills on 100% narrow singletrack. It's pretty smooth, and should be fun to race. Try to preride it sometime.

  2. Ben, I've never been to Brommesiek, I was just going by what I've read online. I plan to pre-ride it Saturday. I hate going into a race without knowing the course.

    Sounds like a good trail.