Tuesday, August 25, 2009

IMBCS #8 Seven Oaks

I am not sure what it is about this place, but it seems like I can not catch a break when it comes to racing here. Read on and you will see what I am talking about.

Got to the race with plenty of time to head up and do a couple miles in the woods to get a feel for the tight technical course that has the most climbing of any race in the area. Chris Reed, Rob McKillip and John Peters all from the HBA Team had shown up to race, good to see some more guys out there doing the mountain bike racing this year. Lined up, and with the combined start of Cat 2 and Single Speeder's there was 46 of us, and once again being in the front was the spot to be. We take off in a grass field, heading towards the turn point at the ski lift, was in 3rd place at this point and held that place when we hit the singletrack. I was keeping no more then 10-15 feet between the 2 guys in front of me, and me, and not sure who was behind me or where, but didn't look back, kept going. First lap is always hectic as everyone is fighting for position on the 7+ mile loop since there isn't much passing once you get in there. Made it up the back hill and back down into the valley to start climbing the backside of the main hill for the first of many times, and the guy in 1st bobbles on one of the skinny bridges, fell off and took the guy in 2nd with him, I was able to get by, and didn't look back. So now we are about 2 miles into the race, and 4 of us have about a minute gap over the field. I was starting to hurt from the high pace and turned it down slightly, and was sitting on 4th place with still a good gap. Thats the nice thing about this race is you can see alot of the course, so you can keep an eye on others. Then it happened, I was cruising along just flowing through the corners, go into a right-hander a little too fast, and wash out. Well when that happened I turned the bars at a 90 degree angle and ended up tacoing my front wheel, DAMN not another bad time at this race. I sit there for a few seconds, look around and noone is caught up to me yet, but I can see them coming, so I see if I can ride it a little bit, and yes it is rideable since it is bent away from my fork it isn't rubbing, all is ok. Going straight isn't bad, the faster I went it got easier to ride, and turning right wasn't and issue, but left turns it just wanted to wash out, not good. So I am going slower now, but still going. I do let Chris, Nick, Rick and a few others go by me, and then when I get to where my wife was taking pictures I stopped and let about 10 guys go by me, not sure if I was going to continue or abandon. I decided after about 20 seconds I would try and ride it for as long as I could. I am sure when I came down the hill going into the second lap I was getting some strange looks from spectators, but I wasn't going to quit.

Started the second lap feeling pretty good, just had to focus and work a little harder to keep the wheel straight. I could start seeing that I was reeling in a few guys now, one of them was Nick, and the other was Chris. I would catch Nick on the descent into the valley, and just pace myself off him for a little while. The 2 of us kept hitting it pretty hard on the spots we could, and eventually caught up to Chris, so the three of us were now riding together. We hit a flatter section, and I was feeling really good, so I got around Nick and was now riding Chris's wheel, he was carrying too much speed going into a corner, and had the wrong line, and I was able to get around him at that point. Made it through the corner I had crashed on during the first lap and just never looked back. I had begun to catch up to one of the Experts that started 5 minutes ahead of us, and was able to get around him, so now I was at a point where I knew I had 2 guys right behind me, but not sure where the guys in front were at. I made it back to the top part of the course, and just pushed as hard as I could to finish.

Came across the line in 9th Place overall and 5th Place in the Cat 2 Open, and furthering my lead in the series. The one thing I have noticed about that is I have yet to win a race, but I have been consistant and have been participating in all the events which is really what has kept me in the lead. Coming up next is the 24 Hour's of Seven Oaks in 2 weeks, and we still only have a 3 man team, so hopefully we can find a 4th before then, if not we will still have fun with it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

August 9th Lake Ahquabi

Heading into this weeks race I have been off the bike for almost the entire week due to being oncall for work, which the riding I did amounted to a total of 50 minutes on the rollers. I was heading down there just to get more points for the IMBCS Series, so showing up and finishing were my main objectives for the day.

The course was a 7.5 mile loop with roughly 700 feet of climbing per lap, all of which came in about 3 climbs that were good length and then shot you right back down the other side. 22.5 miles in total of double track with absolutely no technical sections, so not a course that suits me at all. I got down early enough to get a lap in, and took that at a leisurely pace and still managed to do it in around 40 minutes.

The start was different as it was a mass start for all categories, so we had Experts, Sport, Single Speed, and Beginners all lined up and ready to go. Was not on the front line as most of the Experts had made there way up there, and also since it wasn't a huge deal to get to the single track first, since there was none, second row was fine. We start rolling and get to the first climb which came about 1/4 mile in and that would be where the separation would begin, I was still up in the mix with some Experts, and some of the faster Sport guys catching up. Still going at probably a higher pace then what I wanted to be at, but at one time I looked down and we were rolling along at 20mph or so. I had made the decision to back it off a bit so I could finish at the very least know that I would not be in contention for a good placing this week. Heading into the long paved climb on the back section of the course I was probably sitting in the top 5 or so in the Sport class, so that was good for me. I was able to keep my position on the hills and not loose any places there, but was getting killed on the flats.

Started the second lap and had found a rhythm that was working for me at that point, had one of the other guys catch up to me that I have been beating this year at the other races, and at that point I was just trying to keep up with him, I was starting to feel the fatigue setting in and still had 14+ miles of racing to go. More of the same on this lap, would loose some spots on the flat fast sections, but almost make up some of it on the climbs. By the time that lap was over I knew I was still in the top 10, but was out of the top 3 for my class. So I would just keep powering on though the next lap and see what that brought me.

Third and final lap I was starting to cramp up a little bit, and was taking on as much water as I could, when I could. I had really no one in front of me, or behind me that I could see at this point, so kind of stuck in no mans land just making my way towards the finish, but a lot slower this lap. We got to about the half way mark and I could see 2 guys behind me in the distance, one being Nick from Geoff's Bike and Ski and 2nd Place in the Sport Open for the Series, so I knew I couldn't let him get too much of a gap on me. When he caught up we chatted for a little bit, he told me had had a mechanical on the first lap and had only one chainring bolt left on his little ring, ouch. So he got by me and I just tried to keep him in my sights as long as possible. After the next section he was gone, and I had one more guy coming up pretty quickly. I did my best to hold him off as long as possible, and just before the end he was right on my wheel. The finish for this race was on the final lap you took a sharp left hander and headed straight up this grassy climb back to the lodge. So with him right on my wheel, and a couple people cheering I dropped it down about 3 gears, put my head down and just powered up the hill.

Came across the line 13th overall, and 5th Place Sport Open. Still a respectable result for not riding all week, and being on a course that was not my thing, I think I got 5th here last year. Next race on the calendar is Seven Oaks in two weeks, and I have some redemption with that race as that is where I had double flatted last year and finished the race on my front rim and flat rear.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

August 1st and 2nd Camp Ingawanis

Another 2 day mountain bike race weekend, this time a Time Trial on Saturday followed by the XC race in Sunday. Really sweet thing was the TT course was the same as the XC course, so I was able to do a good amount of scouting out the trail beforehand.

Saturdays TT wasn't well attended, only 11 people racing, but some very strong competition. We started off in 2 minute incriments, so we would be spaced out and not on top of each other the whole time. I was 3rd to register so not too many people for me to chase in the woods. I got off to a good start and was pacing myself pretty well, knowing where I had to be at what times to do a good lap. Came across the line with a time of 22:49 which was almost 2 minutes off my pre-ride times, but only good enough for 8th overall.

Sunday brought on the XC race, 3 laps of the 4.6 mile course for the Cat 2's with a long gravel road start to try and break us up some. Got to the line and was in the front row, knowing the holeshot once again would be crucial, and got on it from the gun. Was the first one in the woods and had a teammate and another guy right on my wheel. Bobbled one corner and took it too wide and got passed. Sitting in second place now with Chris Reed behind me helping push me along, took another corner too fast and it was full of sand and went down, popped right back up and kept going. Got to a spot where it had opened up and let Chris go around me as he was feeling way stronger then me at this point. I would hold his wheel as long as I could before getting passed by one of the singlespeed guys. Going into lap 2 I was in 4th and about 15 seconds behind the lead 3.

Second lap I was starting to feel a bit better, but had no climbing legs, and while there wasn't a hole lot of climbing there was enough to make it hurt. Ended up catching up to the guys in fromt of me in one technical section and was right on their wheel again, stayed there for a bit until it opened up and the other 2 guys went around Chris and me and him were 3-4 at this point. He let me pass after a little bit, and I knew there was another group of guys coming up fast. At the end of this lap I was in 5th or so coming across for one final lap.

Final lap started with me and another guy right behind me, he would get by me soon after the first section, but I could still hear Chris back there yelling at me to keep going. I pushed as hard as I could, and all was going well till I hit the few little climbs and my legs were just shot by this point. I had the one junior behind me, and the guy that is in second overall for the points series right behind him, so I could not give up any room at this point. Knowing we were less then 10 minutes to the finish line I was going as hard as I could. I was able to keep them back about 10 seconds up till the last 1/4 mile. At this point I put in one last acceleration and was able to put almost 30 seconds on the 2 of them. Came across the line in 7th overall, and 3rd place in the Sport Open.

Waited around for results and prizes, ended up getting some Ergon grips, might give them a try since everyone that has them raves about them. The best thing was they were having a raffle for a Surly Karate Monkey Frameset, and Chris had just won a long sleeve jersey, and said if I won the bike he would trade me, and before I oculd answer him the pulled my name out of the box! So I am getting a new 29er frameset for free :) Awesome weekend.

Here is a link to pictures. http://angysnoop.smugmug.com/ From now on that will be the site for all our pictures, and there is a link in the upper right of the blog.