Sunday, August 31, 2008

24 Hours of Seven Oaks

This is one of those things I have always wanted to do since I first heard about such a race. I will have to say that even though being very tired from lack of sleep, and going as hard as I could when I had to ride, it was definitely the most fun I have even had on my bike.

First our team, there was Tom who is a Cat 5 road racer, but a very strong MTBer, Carson a Cat 3 road racer, and this was his first MTB race, and first time he would be riding at night, Chris another Cat 3 road racer and a top 5 sport racer in the MTB world, and then me, been racing MTB for the past 17 years.

The course is an 8 mile lap with probably close to 1200 feet of climbing per lap, not sure the actual numbers, but that is what I have heard. Mostly all singletrack with alot of off camber switch backs both up hill and down.

This race starts off with having to run to your bike, the past few years they had you run through the camping area, and to your bikes at the start of the singletrack, well they found out that caused bottlenecking in that first section, so this year it was a shorter run, and a long ride up almost a mile long gravel road. I was chosen to lead off for us since I have the most mountain biking experience of the 4 of us, and since running isn't my high point i was happy to see a short run, maybe 75 yards. I got to my bike, did some cyclocrossing and jumped on and went, once on the gravel climb, I was able to pick off a couple guys, and entered the woods section at the top in the top 10, and was able to hold that position for the 1st lap. I turned in a 50 minute lap time for the 1st lap not including the extra starting area, and that would set the tone for the rest of the race as we knew what kind of lap times were possible, and something to shoot for. The other guys set out on their laps, and we were all in about the same range of lap times, which meant if we could keep that up we would reach our goal of 24 laps.

Second time out was just my best lap, I was able to clear the entire course without having to put a foot down anywhere, and I turned another lap right around the 50 minute mark. There was a mandatory rule that if you start a lap after 7 pm you have to have your lights installed, not on, but you have to be ready incase it gets dark, and since my turn was coming up right around that time I installed them and was ready. Thankfully I didn't need them as I was able to get back to the bottom of the hill before dark. I tried laying down at that point to rest before heading out on my first dark lap sometime around 11. My turn came up right about that time, maybe a little before 11, and I have ridden in the dark before, but it has been a long time. My new light was nice, but since it was mounted on my handlebar, and my older light was on my helmet and wasn't quite as bright I had a hard time seeing somethings. I got back to camp with a lap time a bit slower than my day times, but still under an hour. We talked about how to ride the night laps, and decided to do 2 at night, but switch it with another guy so you ride one, take a 45 minute or so break and then back out so the other guys can get 3 hours or so of sleep, so I get back and have to try and stay awake for my next ride. Tom was who I would be doing laps with, and he was like myself a little slower at night. I head out for what I was hoping to be my last night lap as I knew my old light would only last about 1 and 1/2 hours, and even though there was a place to recharge the lights, 45 minutes on a charger wouldn't get me much. I lost my helmet light about 1/2 way through my second night lap, so that would slow things down quite a bit, and it proved to be as that lap time was just over an hour, and I was having a hard time turning the pedals over on some of the climbs. I was happy when I came out of the last section of woods, and knew I had about 5 minutes till I could get off the bike and get some sleep. And sleep is what I did, set my alarm for about 3 hours from the time I laid down figuring that would give me enough time to get back up and ride again. I rolled out of bed around 6 when Chris started his lap, and got dressed and ready for my next lap. I didn't really eat anything before going out again, and I was regretting that decision about 1/2 way through that lap, but I knew back at camp there was to be some pancakes and bacon, so that kept me rolling. I got back just before 8, and knew that I would probably have to ride again if everyone kept the same lap times. Around 9:30 the team that was winning came around to see if the top 5 team just wanted to call a truce and stop riding after the lap we were on, we thought about it, and knew that we were a lap behind 3rd place, but only about 40 minutes infront of 5th place, so we told them we were going to keep pushing on. Chris started his lap just before 10, so I knew at that point I would have to go again, but I was able to have 4 pancakes, 6 pieces of bacon, and a cup of coffee, so I was ready to go. Chris came out of the woods at just before 10:45, so I knew I had just over an hour to do this lap incase I wasn't feeling it I could try and soft pedal some sections if need be and still have a good lap time as we had to finish the lap before noon. I was feeling pretty good, and just taking it one corner at a time, and one hill at a time. I came across the line with about 20 miutes or so to spare, and was pleased with the fact that I was able to start the race strong, and finish the race strong as well.

Overall I figure I rode just under 60 miles in a 24 hour time frame as I did 7 laps, and everyone else was able to get 6 in, so that put us at 25 laps, one lap more than our goal. I think we put together a very good team that was able to ride about the same pace for the entire time, and hopefully next year we can do it again and maybe break into the top 3. Now it is off to get some sleep, pictures from the race will be up probably tomorrow sometime.

24 Hours of Seven Oaks

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Iowa State Criterium Championships

Yesterday found us in Pella for the final road race of the season, the State Crit. The HBA Team had a total of 9 guys in 5 different races with 3 of the guys doing multiple races. Noteables, Chris Eastburn, 2nd Place Masters 50+ and 3rd Place Masters 40+, Carl Rosenberg, 3rd Place Cat 3 and Mac 2nd Place Juniors 15-18, so a good showing for the team.

Now onto the race, this was to be my first actual Cat 4 race with a good size field and some pretty big teams. Got on the line and was in the front row, looking back I could see 30+ racers in the group, and had only one other teammate in the bunch which was Mac. We talked that we would try and stick together in the top ten or so if we could to try and stay in the front and hope for a good placing. Well this was not a typical lenght crit, it was 35 laps for a total of 21 miles, mainly they do that so it will qualify for upgrade point since the USCF has guildlines for that. We get rolling and I am sitting about 7th or 8th wheel, right where I need to be, now I expected it to be fast, but not as fast as we were going. I was planning on just sitting in and going, but for some stupid reason, maybe inexperience, we slowed down on the climb on about lap 6 or so, and I took off to the front, hoping to take a few guys and maybe get a break, but that wasn't going to happen because we never got away, and by the time we hit the next lap coming up the hill I was shot, yeah and 29 more times around. I got shot off the back quickly and could never recover, so I just got it to a comfortable pace that I could handle and basically rode a time trial for as long as I could. Some laps later I got lapped, and noticed Mac was on the back of the pack, so I jumped on in front of him trying to help him get back with the group, well little did I know he was lapped as well. We worked for the next couple laps and a few more after that, lapped again, tried to get back on, but had nothing left. This time I picked up another rider and we worked for quite a bit as well. 5 laps to go and I would get lapped for a 3rd time. The nice thing about this course is there was no need to pull guys, so I was able to finish the race, one lap to go and I can see Mac going in the first turn, so I got on it and bridged up to him just to help him finish, and so the HBA guys could come across together. We both finished, not sure what place, but like I said we were so far behind it didn't matter. I was able to learn alot about racing in the 4's, and that my training for next year will be focused on doing shorter harder efforts, and how to recover quickly.

Results now posted, and I came in 19th Place out of 30 riders.

Up next is the 24 Hour MTB Race down in Boone next weekend, 4 man team, hoping that will be a great time, then 3 more MTB races and Cross season .

Thursday, August 21, 2008

8-19 Last Night at the Oval

Tuesday brought the last race at Hawkeye Downs for the year, which had a great turnout, and a pizza party afterwards. Once again I was up in the A Race, just trying to keep on some wheels and learn as we went about racing at high speeds in a pack setting.

First Race was a 10 lap scratch race, lots of attacks from the start, and I did a pretty good job of grabbing the right wheel when they went. With 2 laps to go Mac (HBA Junior) took off and the pack just let him go, I thought of going with him which it turns out I should have because he held a decent gap for over a lap, and having a second person would have been helpful to pull through the headwind on the front stretch. Well about 1/2 a lap to go and we were closing in on him fast, and he was caught right before the final turn, and it was a pack sprint from there, I came across the line in 9th.

Second Race was a 15 lap points race, every 3 laps you sprint for points, well again the attacks started right away, but nothing really stuck so the first few were just beating up the others with no real gains. One the 3rd sprint I was sitting 5th wheel, and decided to just go for it, well I got up out of the saddle and went only taking one other guy with me, and we almost held it all the way to the line, I came on 4th on that sprint which gave me one point, which all I wanted in an A Race. After that my legs were dead so I just settled in for my own pace trying to keep a high enough speed as to not get lapped, and that worked, but I was so shot after that one. Again a 9th place finish.

3rd Race was a 6 lap scratch race, so basically a 3 mile effort with multiple attacks and fighting for position. By the time we came around on the final lap I was feeling decent, and had a go for the sprint, ended up in 8th place this time.

Final race as it was getting dark was a win and out, so whoever crosses the line first pulls out. One guy takes a flier right off the start and tries to hold off the field, but that wasn't going to happen, and he was caught on the last corner and shot off the back. I knew I had no chance of winning any of the laps, so I just sat in and held onto the pack as to not get dropped and figured I would wait for the final sprint on lap 6. There was 6 of us left and I was the 3rd of them to come across the line, so once again an 8th place finish.

Overall it was a good year at the Oval, I have learned alot that can be applied in crits, and my pack riding skills have greatly improved. Looking forward to doing it all again in the spring, for now though there is teh State Crit this weekend, then 4 more MTB races, and the start of a couple month Cross season.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Lake Ahquabi just south of Indianola, out by Des Moines. We got there with plenty of time to do a lap to get a feel for the course. Rick showed up right after we did, so after getting registered, we headed out for a lap. The whole course was double track, with 4 decent climbs, including one that had railrod ties to help with water run off. Felt pretty good on teh pre-ride, most of the course could be done in the big ring, so that was how I was going to race it.

First lap, I hole-shotted again and was first into the woods, most of the other courses that was important so you don't get stuck in a pile-up in the single track, but today was different, so I really didn't need to, but still did. Within the first mile a few guys got past me as I sat in to a pace that I could hold for the duration of the ride. Got through lap one with no problems, except a missed feed zone again, which they met me at another spot where I could grab the bottle.

Second lap, I was able to catch up to a couple guys, and ride pretty much with them, and even caught our first expert rider who went out 5 minutes before us. I did something wrong at some point because the other guys took off and I could never regain any ground on them. I got my feed zone that time too, so all was good.

Third lap I was totally in a zone just turning the pedals over at a constant pace trying to not lose any ground, but wasn't gaining any either. I could see a couple guys behind me at one point but just kept going. I caught another expert about 1/2 way through this lap. I somehow though made a wrong turn, and realized it about 20 second late, which allowed the other 2 guys to catch up to me, so now it was all out to try and reel them back in. I got back on the one guys wheel, and he asked if I was taking a shortcut, and I told him no I missed the corner. Passed him right before the railroad tie climb, and got on the other guys wheel going up the climb, well he was spinning away in the granny gear, and I only have 2 front chainrings, so no real granny gear to speak of, so I had to try and pace intil I could pass, got almost to the top and could go around him, and never looked back. A couple more ups and downs, then a big down to the finish, which had a nice drop off from the parking lot to the line, and I decided to jump it since it was over anyways. There will be pics of that I am sure sometime soon.

I did finish in 5th Place for the Sport Open, which keeps me in the lead for now, but 2nd place in the series is closing in on me, so time will tell how that plays out.

Here are pictures, they include a bunch of other people.

IMBCS #7 Indianola

Night at the Oval 8-5-08

This was to be my 1st Oval that I raced in the A Race, I knew going int oit that there was no chance of winning since we have quite a few strong Cat 3's and such that were there. I set a goal of not getting lapped in any of the races, so that was obtainable.

First race a a 10 lap scratch race, and right from the go there were some atacks, and I was just trying to cover them so I didn't get shot off the back, but the speed and power that these guys have is incredible, so I was in the 2nd group. At one point I thought I could bridge across, and came up about 10 seconds short, and knew it wasn't going to happen, so I sat up and waited for the next group to catch me again. Sat in and tried to recover, and decided to just wait for the final sprint. Well that is still not a strong point for me, but I did come across the line in 11th place out of 13, so not last.

Second race was a 15 lap points race, and I knew that with only points going to the top 4 every three laps I would have to hope for a good finish. Even though I wasn't sprinting for anything I had to go all out just to be able to stay with the group while they sprinted. That went on like that intil the final lap which I was toast by then and came across in 12th place.

Third was an 8 lap scratch race, and I did better here. Made sure to keep an eye on the right guys, and even threw in an attack myself, but that didn't get me anywhere, but I did come across in 19th place that time.

Then there was 2 spiral of death races, basically one lap on the 1/2 mile track, one on the 1/4 mile track and then one on the 1/8 mile track, well I was so out of it by then that I would just settle for finishing, got 12th in the 1st one, then we went the opposite direction, and I got 11th in that one.

Overall a good learning experience of covering the right attacks, and when to go and when not to, so hopefully that will pay off when we go back on the 19th for the final Oval of the year.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ang takes the blame!

(This is Angy writing...I'm posting this over here because it's more related to Keith's biking than my blog and our family life.)

Alright, so I feel really really bad about what happened to Keith on Sunday at the MTB race. I know I had nothing to do with his double flatting, but I had a big to do with his dehydration and serious cramping afterwards! The plan was to meet him at the top of the ski hill for the feed zone, but I got totally distracted when I first saw him in the woods with a flat tire. I ran to the finish line to see if he wanted to keep going or what. After he decided to keep going, there wasn't enough time to run over to the ski hill to give him the new bottle. I did run down the road to see him again, but he was so far away and couldn't hear me, and even then I was only cheering him on, didn't realize I still had his bottle in my hands. After he disappeared into the woods there was no way to find him again. The poor guy filled up his bottle from the creek to get some water! And then he did find a spectator out in the woods somewhere who had a little bit of water on him. Thank you to him for sharing!! By the time I saw Keith again it was only a very short distance to the finish. I gave him his bottle, but it was too late the damage was done, and he had it downed by the finish line. It took him forever to finish the race, and I know the double flats caused the most problems, but if he had more energy (aka bottle) he would have been able to go a bit more. Sitting at the finish line he got cold sweats and drank probably 3 more bottle of water. We walked back to the car and then the cramp set in. His calf muscle cramped up so bad! Luckily it didn't happen in the woods. Glad I was able to help ease it by a massage, but still wasn't pretty! So from now on, water is the first priority!!! Pictures and everything else comes afterwards! Also I'm going to remember to carry extra water with me in case I run into a biker out there who needs it. Let's hope we never have another race like this one!! Well, he did finish, so that's pretty hardcore of him!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Seven Oaks MTB Race (my HTFU moment)

Another weekend of many coming up of mountain bike racing, this one will hopefully be the one to get all my problems out and I can get back to some good racing. For those of you not in the loop, last year before cross season Ang got me a wristband that Team CSC used in the tour, that read Harden The F@*k Up (HTFU). All last season and this season I have been wearing it at races and it gives my that little motivation I need to make sure I always finish no matter what, (well unless I get pulled).

So this weeks story is my example of that. Got there early as a friend of mine was doing the beginner race and we went to watch him and cheer him on. He finished 2nd place! When they got done I had just over an hour till my start, so I went out to do some of the course. Once again I went farther than I wanted to and had to try and find a way back to the start so I didn't miss that. Got there with plenty of time to spare this week! Start was about a 1/2 mile gravel road to try and break up the group since there was about 30 or so of us. Got into the woods in about 5th place siting really good, and just start going at my own pace once I get into the single track, well about 2 miles in I notice my rear tire is feeling a little soft, crap a flat, and of course I don't have any way to repair it (don't carry any), so I decided to just continue on and see how it goes. Well the course is basically just a set of switchbacks up and then down the side of a few different larger hills, so a lot of elevation change on the course, I had heard something like 1800 feet per lap, but that seems a little high, but might be close for the 8 mile loop. So now it is decision time, do I try and continue on one good tire, and one that I can still go up and down just fine, but any side hill stuff just isn't going to happen to easily. I decide to see how long it takes to complete that lap and how many places I loose before the finish line. I lost maybe 5 places in the next 6 miles, and knew there were more out there, so I then decided to keep going. I make it up to Ang and the boys, and she sees the flat and asks if I was done, and said no, I will try and keep going, she says I am nuts, and I go on my way. As I cross the start finish line there were some people around and Ang made it over there, and they all comment about the tire, and she says that I am leading the points series, so I was going to at least try and continue.

Lap 2, I somehow missed the kids and my feed zone, so I was still only on my 1st bottle, and it was getting low quickly. I get almost to the same spot as last lap, and realize that I now have a flat in the front as well. So this is my HTFU moment! I decide I am no where that I can get out since I don't know the trails, and I was going to continue on 2 flat tires now. I had another guy pass me, and he commented on it as well, but I just kept going. I get about a mile, and have no control over the front end of my bike, and now I see the tire has actually began to come off the rim, so I stop, take the tire off, and throw it on my back, and ride with just the rim. I know it will probably damage the rim, but that is a chance I am willing to take. Another guy that also passed me said I made him feel really bad since he had a fully functional bike and I was almost beating him with 2 flats, was hurting pretty bad, and I could always see him in front of me, but could never catch him. I did finally pass him about 2 miles from the end, and never saw him again. Since I had missed the feed zone I came up to a guy taking pictures, and asked if he had some water, he had just a little bit, but that was enough to keep me from cramping, and make it to the finish. I see Ang in the woods about 5 minutes away from the end, (well with a good working bike, longer with my flats) and she had my other bottle, so I grabbed that and she made some comment to me, I just kept going. She runs over to the finish, grabs Rick (our friend) and says he needs to see how I am coming across the line, he thinks two flats, and she says, well yeah, but he is just riding the rim on the front. I came across the line almost 2 and 1/2 hours after starting my 16 mile death march, completely exhausted, but I finished, and that was all I wanted. I got some props from just about everyone there at the end, and I am sure they all thought I was nuts, but like I said, I was never going to quit. Believe it or not, the front rims is perfectly true, and I didn't see any major dents in it, the rear I haven't closely inspected, but will do that soon and see the damages. I think what kept the front from any major damage is the fact that it is full of mud and sand, so it made it pretty solid.

So all in all it was a good day, I got some good cyclocross training in with having to run up most of the hills, and I finished. Ended up taking 6th place in the Sport Open category and got some more points to increase my lead in the IMBCS Series. There were so many people that dropped out due to flats it was insane, most I have ever seen at a race.

IMBCS #6 Boone