Saturday, December 4, 2010

2010 Cyclocross Season

I know it has been a long time since this has been updated, so I will cover the whole cross season in one post, and Jingle Cross will get it's own.

First race of the season was at a new venue in North Liberty at Bobber's Bar and Grill put on by the Iowa City Crew, and Race #1 in the Eastern Iowa Cyclocross Experiment (EICE) For the series I did the combined Cat 3/4 lined up on a nice 50 degree day with a mist in the air, not really raining but enough to make it chilly. Lined up front row as the start wasn't very long, and then had a 90 degree left onto the grass, got a good start and was either first or second going onto the grass, lead into the barriers and continued there for a little while. Halfway through the first lap and we had a gap forming and 5 of us were gone. We would battle that out over the next few laps and exchanged places depending on what section of the course we were at. About the halfway point I was still feeling strong, and could tell some of the others were starting to fade, so I put in another good lap and was all alone by the time we came through with 2 to go. This is the point where I don't like being as there are guys in front you can't catch, and the guys behind aren't really gaining on you much, so just have to continue to give it all you got. I go around with one to go, and know I am in a good position, cruise that lap and end up coming across the line in 3rd Place out of 15, good enough to score me some upgrade points.

There was a couple week gap in the schedule till the next EICE race, and I didn't feel like travelling to Des Moines, so I found out about a race in Illinois that was only about a 3 hour drive, and decided we should go out there and see how I do in a larger field. So we head out there and I go to register and after turning around my wife points out that Barry Wicks is standing right behind me, and she gets all giddy like a school girl, Barry is the man. Being as this was part of a series and I didn't pre-register I knew I wouldn't get a good start like at the local races, but didn't realize it would be this bad, I was in the last row of about 70+ starters, oops. Oh another sweet thing is this race had a fly over, which I have always wanted to do a race with one, but nothing was local, was awesome. So back to the start, I was able to get clipped in right away, fast start into a left and then a right, weaved through the pack, was able to get into about mid-pack and was riding well, barriers in the woods, and with this being a Cat 3 race you would think people would know how to dismount and remount, but nope was a traffic jam, I was able to get through and pick up a few spots, but of course by now the leaders were gone. Found myself in a group with about 6-7 other guys and was nice for a change to be with people, I think this was the first race that I was with someone else the whole time. I did have one stupid crash on the first lap on a downhill 180 degree corner, but once I found the line through there I was good. The course wasn't overly technical, so of course the stronger road guys would pull away on the straights, but I would bring them right back in the corners, or the short run up. Going into the last lap I found myself with a small group of 2-3 guys, was able to loose all but 1 going into the last little bit, and found us sprinting for the line which I don't recall ever having to do that. Came across the line in 34th out of 64 finishers, and was pleased with that result, wish I had a better start maybe could have pick up a few more spots.

Back to Iowa for the next race in the EICE, Devil's Cross in the Quad Cities. Always a good venue with a good run-up, some climbing, and technical corners, line up again on the front line, and once we are off I get the holeshot into the first corner, around the tree into the barriers, lead for a little bit longer, then I crashed going into a corner way too hot, and since the ground was dry from the lack of rain this year it was loose, also 2nd place went down on the same corner, was able to get back up quickly and retain my position, got passed on the run-up and was ready to settle in behind those guys. At this point I was sitting in 3rd place going into the 2nd lap. Next few laps were pretty much riding by myself in no mans land again, and then I notice Steve Bullerman coming from behind with Carl on his wheel, did my best to keep them behind me, but after another lap they caught me and were gone. At this point my plan was to hold off any more riders from catching me, going into the last lap I was starting to gain a little ground on the guys in front of me, but just could never catch them, oh well I would settle for a 5th place finish.

Onto the first double weekend for us with Bobber's Cross II on Saturday, and Middle Park Madness on Sunday, I didn't have a great night going into Saturdays race I knew I would not have a great race but still lined up on the front row and got the holeshot, but was quickly passed once we got out in the field, this race was shorter the the other race held here, was slightly more technical with the corners but I still wasn't mentally into it. I tried to do what I could to pull people back that I usually beat, but just didn't have it in me. Spent the rest of the race trying to not lose many more places, and came across the line in 8th place.

The following day was Middle Park Madness, held in the Quad Cities, I love this race, always a fast start, and a perfectly made, natural jump over a drainage pipe, got a much better night of sleep, felt refreshed, and was back on my game. The start line is about halfway through the lap as to sort us out some before hitting the run-up, so we start, around the pond to the barriers, I am leading at this point, through the tight turns in the field, hit the run-up, get back on as soon as it flattens out some, still in the lead on the upper field section, down to the jump, get a decent amount of air, was a little farther down the hill then I though and the landing was a little sketchy, but all good. I knew I wouldn't be able to hold the lead for much longer, got passed in the barriers and made a wrong turn and almost through the caution tape I went. Regrouped, figured out I needed to just calm down a little and race, next couple laps more of the same, not really losing to many spots until I crashed, not once but twice on the same lap. Once again due to how dry it has been the grass was a little tricky in some of the 180 degree corners, and I went down, the second time I had ripped the scab off from the crash at Devils Cross, and was bleeding again, doh. I yelled to the wife I had crashed, and of course being supportive as always she cheered me on and said I was doing great and to keep at it. Well with 2 laps to go I find myself in 4th place, and 5th was closing in on my slightly, he was on a SS so I would have the advantage in some sections, and others he would catch back up, going by my wife this time she yelled out that if I get top 5 I can get new tires, as the ones I am on this was their 3rd season, and that was the motivation I needed to just keep hammering away. 5th place never did catch me as the run into the last bit was downhill from the jump, then around the pond and the small field section, I was gone, bug ring the whole way just cranking on it, came across the line in 4th place, and decided we were heading to Geoff's Bike and Ski on the way home to get some new tires, picked up a sweet set of Challenge Grifo's :)

The next week I went on-call for work, had it all worked out for a guy to cover my weekend so I could race both days of Cedar Valley X, but that fell through and was only able to find someone to cover Sunday, oh well one day is better then none. So we get up to Cedar Falls, and the course is huge, 2 miles long with a giant whirl, it took almost a minute to get through it. The start was a decent length climb that switchbacked up to the finish line, then down hill, a couple corners to the run-up, over to the long paved section, about 1/2 mile, and then barriers, the whirl, and then repeat. Get to the starting line and Carson is there along with a few other fast road guys, and with this being a pretty much all out power course with little technical section, I knew I was screwed, so in my typical fashion I got to the front of the line and when the whistle blew I was off, didn't realize how big of a gap I had till after the race and looked at some pictures. I lead the entire first lap, and bobbled the run-up as I had wasted most of my energy already, and just couldn't get back onto the leader group. I did bridge up to another guy on the paved section and was able to sit on his wheel into the headwind, and we caught the leaders, seemed as if they were trying to use some road tactics, and of course it worked because shortly after we got on they went again, I did all I could to try and keep up, but just wasn't happening. I would ride the next few laps solo, which wasn't too bad, but the paved section sucked into the headwind, so when I thought I would get a little break on that section I ended up working harder then I wanted. Once again I didn't have the legs I wanted, so I would just settle for a 7th Place finish, and be happy I was racing my bike and not working.

Then my season went really bad, got sick on Halloween, was in bed for 2 days, got over that and still didn't feel right, ended up I had Bronchitis and it took just over 3 weeks to get better from that.

But in that time of being sick I had one more race in the EICE, Psyclofest in the Quad Cities, another all out power course with one killer run-up, I decided I would show up, do the race for points in the series, and if I didn't do well I had a pretty good excuse. I lined up with everyone else, didn't go all out at the start, wasn't leading, but once we got to the backside of the course and started climbing I knew it was over, I basically had no power in my legs, couldn't breath, and just realized I shouldn't be out there. I did the best I could to keep moving forward, which at some points wasn't easy. Phil's Hill was killer, was really hating that thing after about 2 laps, and at that point I was so far off the back it didn't matter. Halfway through the race I was feeling worse, so I made the decision I would finish, but I did sit up and made it a point to get lapped. It took a while for that to happen as it was a long course, but eventually it did and I was relieved. Came across the line in last place, and just rolled over to the car, loaded the bike and sat down for about 30 minutes before moving.

That race was the final race in the EICE series, so we waited around watching the mens open race, and ate some pizza and drank some Gatorade that was provided by DICE/Healthy Habits. Once the results were all final and the series standing were posted I ended up in 2nd Overall in the Cat 3/4 for the series.

There is one thing I have learned from doing both the IMBCS Series the past 3 years, and this Series this year, is you don't have to be the fastest to do well, all you have to do is be consistent to do well.

I will do a separate write-up in Jingle Cross later as that needs it's own post, and this should be more then enough reading for now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

WORS Race Lake Geneva

2 weekends ago we decided to travel to Wisconsin to do a WORS Race, having never done one, but always hearing great things about them and it only being 3.5 hours away we went for it. Get directions and we are off, get closer and we follow some signs which lead us to the Grand Geneva Resort, I mean this is an upscale place, they have a sweet stone entrance, a whole bunch of fountains, huge resort buildings with sports complexes, golf course, and an airport. Tucked all the way in the back though is a small ski hill that would be the venue for the race. I decided to try out the Comp Class which is basically in between Cat 2 where I usually race and Cat 1, which I hope to achieve someday.

Roll up to the staging area after getting a good warm-up and look around, don't know anyone, talk to a few guys that pre-rode the day before and got some pointers on the course, and they go through the call ups for series leaders, not looking good, so the rest of us finally get up to the line and I am 3rd row. Not where I am used to starting, usually am on the front row and ready to rock out, now I would have to fight for a decent position. The way the had us staged was in 2 separate age groups lumped together, so wasn't really sure who I was racing against. The countdown to go, and we are off, now since it is a ski hill, and we are at the base of it, guess where we get to go, that's right, up, and up some more, the start is fast, short grass flat and then turn left and climb, was in a decent position by the top of the hill, maybe top 10, and once you get to the top, you have to come back down, really fast side hill singletrack downhill, into another left and climb back up, back down and then the final ascent on the frontside that would take us all the way to the top of the hill. Get up there, lost a few spots as I didn't know the course so didn't want to blow up too quickly, into the singletrack on the backside, and just hold my current position. The singletrack was a lot of fun, twisty, and rooty and rocky, my kind of course, but of course the local had the advantage, so I would end up losing a few more spots before getting to the rock garden. That was a blast, it seemed every spectator was there waiting for carnage, and you could hear the cheering from about 1/2 mile away. Small drop down, sweeping right and now you are in the rocks, thankfully there was a line established by this time from all the other riders before me and was pretty smooth, after the rocks was a set of 4 drops that dropped you back off on the fire road. Now we are about 3 miles into the 6.75 mile course, and I was doing my best to follow wheels, started to catch up to the back end of the Elite Womans field that started 3 minutes or so before us, and passing wasn't an option in most places, so you did have to wait some. One spot was a pine tree section that reminded me of Sugar Bottom for a short while, but that was quickly replaced with more tight twisty rocky, rooty singletrack. Before making it back to the lap line, you had a series of switchbacks that were just about180 degrees, and very tight making for some hard going for the 29ers, but as long as you took it wide you were good to go. One final double track climb and time to rinse and repeat 2 more times.

Feed zones was established at the top of the first climb, and was able to get my empty bottle to Salem so he could get it refilled for me before the last lap. By now the guys from the next wave were starting to catch up to us, and not knowing what class they were in I assumed they weren't with me as they were moving pretty good. Back up to the top and down into the singletrack, had 2 guys gaining on me at this point and told them I would let them pass when we got the chance, well I rode that section well and took till the next doubletrack before the catch. They go by and I try and hold their wheel the best I can, but that was a lost cause, and they were gone. Look up ahead and see a familiar jersey in front of me, and it was on the shoulders of Brittany McConnell from Iowa City. Couldn't quite catch up to her before the rock garden, went through there again with relative ease and was feeling pretty good, caught Brittany on a singletrack section, and waited till it opened up again to make the pass, exchanged a few words and kept on moving. It was pretty neat as half way through the course they had a neutral water station set up and had 12-15 people with water cups lined up handing them out to racers that wanted them, or they would splash you with it if you liked, so I would grab one at the first guy and drink that one and then grab another towards the end and throw that one on myself, was really refreshing as it was close to 85 degrees that day. End of the 2nd lap and I was starting to feel my legs just yelling at me telling me enough already, but had one more lap to go.

Start the 3rd lap and was able to get both my water bottles, so I had plenty of fluid to get me though, just didn't know if I had anything left in the legs. Climbing the 2nd hill on the frontside I actually dropped into my little ring and just sat there and spun, I think that is 1st time in an XC race the past 3 years I have used the little ring, only other time was the 24 Hour Race last year. Crested the hill for the last time and was back into the singletrack, rock garden seemed to come quicker this lap, was probably all mental but go there and flew down through the chute again, and was felling like I was ready for the race to be over. But alas there was still almost 4 miles of the race left and knew I had to keep on moving. Get to the feed zone and the 1st Place Elite racer flew by me like I wasn't moving, ok so he has made up a whole lap on me now, damn. I just keep plugging away knowing I just need to keep pedaling and not look back. The nice thing was you could tell when the Elite guys were coming because you would hear them talking to guys behind me, so about 2 minutes or so later 2nd place comes by. I did my best to stay out of their way, not sure if I ever stopped, but would get over and let them go. Final time through the switchbacks and you can hear the announcer at the finish starting to rattle off names of finishers in my race as well as the Elite's. Coming up that doubletrack for the final time was a relief, I was in pain, legs were shot, and I did all I could to not allow anyone to pass me. Finished.

Sat down on the side of the hill, layed down and was convinced I would just stay there for a while. Got up about 5 minutes or so later, and talked with Kyle, Robin, Kevin, and Brittany for a few minutes, headed back to the car to change and hangout and try and eat. They are really quick about getting the results in, so walked back over and saw I was 13th in my age group, and found out later that I was 44th overall for the Comp Class, a pretty good result as it was my first time racing at that level, and hoping next year to make it back up there to do some more WORS Races.

Next up Cyclocross Season :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

8-29-10 Sugar Bottom Scramble

Been a while but finally have some down time to write this up, hopefully I can remember most of the details. Sugarbottom is the longest lap of any of the IMBCS Series races, at just over 10.5 miles of almost all singe track goodness with rocks, roots, and a fair amount of climbing it is a true test of skill and stamina. Also helps that it is a local race for us and have the ability to ride there often, and although I didn't take advantage of that as much as I should have this year, the trails mostly stayed the same from last year with the exception of a few needed reroutes. Showed up early so the kids could race in the morning, with both of them doing the youth race and placing 1st and 3rd, Salem decided he would attempt the Junior Race which was a full lap of the course, would prove to be a challenge for him thats for sure. He did great and ended up in 5th overall and 1st in his age group, awesome result for him, and got a State Championship medal.

On to my race now, knowing this start sucks I positioned myself on the front line in the center of the gravel road, looking around there was probably 30 or so of us and knew it would be a fast start. Off we go heading towards the gravel climb that is probably 1/2 mile up the road, I was clipped in and just picking up gears as quick as I could, look back and I had a 20-30 foot gap going into the climb, knowing I would fade slightly and there were some faster local guys that ride there alot I was in to just try and hit the woods in the top 10. I started counting as guys went by and entered the woods close to 8th or 9th, right where I wanted to be, and the big reward for making it into the woods up front is you now descend with some switchbacks and can for the most part recover. I sat in right on Ryan VH's wheel, right where I was hoping to be as me and him are close for the top spot in the overall, and since I knew the course pretty well I was able to give him little heads up here and there on sections coming up so we didn't lose the lead group. All is going well till we hit the one section where you drop down do a 180 turn right up a little hill, then turn 180 to the left and right back down, at this point Ryan goes down and I do my best to avoid hitting him and his bike and end up hitting a tree myself going down and losing my water bottle on the ground, so I make sure to pick that up as it was 90 degrees and knew I needed that. I do a quick run up the hill and do my best cyclocross remount and only lost 2 spots and was now riding behind Kyle Williams. Another 3/4 of a mile and we would exit out onto the gravel road, made a risky pass to get by Kyle and started to reel Ryan back in, at this point I had ran out of gears, was doing upwards of 33 mph and went by Ryan on the right, taking a couple other guys with me. We get into the next section which is a flat flowy trail that I was using to recover before starting the North side with all of it's climbing. Got onto the Northside single track and just plugged away at the ups and downs. This has the only Black Diamond trail as well as the Double Black known as "Cyclocross Hill" You could hear all the spectators on cyclocross hill as they go looking for carnage, this year though it was the most rideable as it has ever been, so was able to fly into it carry that speed most of the way up the other side and come out with a decent amount of speed still, in previous years it wasn't as fast and most would walk/shift under load and break chains. Another flat flowy section and we would be heading into lap 2.

Start of lap 2 found me getting caught by the 2 guys behind me but I had gapped Ryan by now and wasn't sure how far back he was, then it happened. I missed my feed zone and was heading out with less then a full water bottle, not good. At this point I decided I wouldn't chase the 2 guys of front of me and just sit in at a pace I could hold for the next hour. First section went pretty well for me, was able to keep the guys in front of me in sight and wasn't losing any time, still didn't know where Ryan was behind me and knew I had to keep going the best I could to stay up. I was passing water bottles on the ground and thought I would stop and grab one to drink so I had something, but not knowing what people have in their bottles I didn't want to risk it, so I continued on. This time I was able to ride the Southside cleanly and had no mishaps heading into the gravel road again, hoping my feed zone might be there, nope :( Oh well only have about 4 miles or so to make it through, and almost out of water, it would be crucial to just sit and spin up the climbs and not go all out. I made it to the top of the climb and noone else was in sight either in front of me or behind me at this point. Took a few chances on the downhills to keep my speed up and try and make up any time I lost on climbing. Got to cyclocross hill and could hear cheering before I got there so knew someone wasn't to far ahead, but not sure if I could go any harder, then it happened, climbing up the other side I started to cramp my left calf, so knew I was done with any hard riding. Thankfully it was basically flat the next mile or so to the finish, I would be able to cruise it home and retain my position. Out into the field, put it in the big ring and just went for all I had left, finished.

Sat down and drank some water, some Coke at a sandwich and just watched everyone else finish. Waited around for results and once they were posted I wondered over to find out I was 7th overall for the Cat 2 Open, good result for me and I was pleased, my second lap time suffered due to the conservative riding I had to do, but was able to retain a good finish. Waited around as they were paying 8 deep, found out it was just a table full of schwag and was a pick your prize deal, so I ended up grabbing a tubeless conversion kit of my 29er, so will get around to doing that for next year. Also they had a raffle drawing and we ended up winning a sweet New Belgium Brewing pitcher, shirt and a couple other things. Overall I was pleased with the result and kept me in contention for a top spot in the overall in the IMBCS Series.

Pics are here

Monday, July 26, 2010

IMBCS #7 Seven Oaks Rec. Boone

After 2 months away from racing the mountain bike, yesterday found us traveling out to Boone for another adventure around that race course. I have had little luck mechanically at this place with my double flat 2 years ago and tacoing my wheel last year, things weren't looking good going into this one, but I am always up for the challenge of conquering my past demons. With all the rain we have had the past few weeks the back section of the course is missing bridges, and sections are washed out pretty badly, so the day before the decision was made to run the upper section of the race course, less climbing, but still enough technical sections to make it a hard race. Got there plenty early so I could head out and get a pre-ride in which was really helpful to see where the slick spots were and where to push it if I could.

Standard Boone start, far end of the field which would give us about 1/4 to 1/2 a mile of grass to ride through before hitting the climb for the first lap, got a good jump and was sitting in 3rd going into the singletrack, first time up the climb there were a few bobbles on some of the switchbacks behind us which would allow small gaps to form. Hit the top and was now time to open it up. There is nowhere near the amount of climbing as usual here, so that would prove to be a set back for me as I like climbing, but the 3 of us pushed on and at one point started to open up a gap. 1st place got a head a little bit and I was able to get around 2nd place towards the top and try not to let the gap get too big, but that didn't happen as he was already gone. Came through the first lap in 2nd place, but was getting caught in the field section at the bottom.

Started the 2nd lap in 3rd place with Ryan sitting about 20 yards off my wheel, he would stay there on some sections, others be right behind me, then I would open it up again. That first climb would prove to be my breaking point as I was having an issue recovering after it on the top section, usually we would get to the top and then have a descent to get a little rest, not today though. I was having a good day on the short punchy climbs though and that was helping to keep the gap. By the end of the 2nd lap Ryan would catch me at the bottom of the hill and we would enter the 3rd lap together. Climbing back through the switchback I asked how he was feeling, said pretty good, so I knew I would be conceding my spot to him on this lap, once again by the top of the hill I was pretty much unable to recover so I let him go by, trying my best to keep him in sight and try not to let the gap go too far out. 3rd lap was the only one I was able to ride cleanly, so I knew I had slowed down a little, because the first 2 laps I made some stupid mistakes from pushing the pace a little too high. Got down to the bottom to start the final lap and now was all alone with Ryan about a minute ahead and John Peters just over a minute behind.

Started the 4th lap and decided that opening climb kicked my butt the other 3 times, and would drop down into my little ring and just spin my way up. Felt better at the top this time from not pushing too big of a gear, and probably should have done that sooner. About 1/2 way through this lap I was starting to get caught by the front 2 Cat 1 racers, Kevin McConnell and Cam Kirkpatrick would be just a little behind him, pulled off and stopped to let Kevin go and a few minute later did the same for Cam. Descending for the final time the trail switchbacks going down giving you the chance to see people in front and behind you, so never saw Ryan again but could see John on a section behind me. Out to the field for one final time, ended up catching Mike Johnson whom was at the tail end of the Cat 1's just before the line.

Came across in 4th Place overall for the Cat 2's and that would also be 4th Place in the Cat 2 Open for the series. Boone however did get the last word because after changing and getting ready to load my bike I noticed my front tire was flat, must have picked up a thorn somewhere, but held air till I got down to the finish so that was a good thing.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summerset Shootout

Last weekend found us traveling out to Des Moines for the 4th race in the IMBCS Series, headed out Saturday afternoon to get in a couple pre-ride laps with Rick, Ryan, Kyle and Bruce. We also took the kids and wifes bike and they also pre-rode the course as Sunday was Angela's birthday, and she was thinking about racing but wanted to see the course before making her decision.

Sunday morning we arrive to get registered and warmed up, the whole family was racing this weekend, Kaden doing the kids race, which he won (small course), then Angela and Salem were lined up for the beginner race, they made the decision that the women and juniors would do 2 laps of the 2.5 mile technical course. They got off to a rolling start down the road towards the singletrack, Salem went into the woods before Angela and he was keeping right up with most of the guys, remember he is only 12 years old, so he was doing awesome. Angela came through where I was standing at about 4 minutes after Salem and she was smiling, at least for the pictures. I handed off the camera to Kaden so I could get warmed up, decided I would go and find her on the course and cheer her on, Salem was walking back towards the Start/Finish area with a flat tire, bummer. I rolled up behind Angela to see how she was doing, and she was doing good except on a couple of the looser climbs, one of which I wish I had the camera for because she was upside down about 6 foot down off the trail and still clipped in, funny, helped her out of her bike and let he finish her race, I turned off to head back towards the staging area. I get back to find out that when Salem came back they told him since he was the only Junior if he could grab another bike he could go finish the race, Kaden's bike was locked on the car and I had no keys, so he jumped on Eric Penne's son's bike, he is I think 7 years old, so he takes off on a bike that is clearly way too small for him, and was able to finish the race. Overall Angela came through shortly before we started in 2nd Place in the women's race, her first mountain bike race, and Salem was 1st since he was the only Junior.

On to my race now, we would be doing 5 laps of the Northside of Summerset, which is some of the most technically challenging course we race on, not in terms of rocks/roots but in the form of trails with no real flow to them, some really steep drops, so climbs that you go into carrying some speed from the previous downhill, but go into them at a 90 degree turn, or more, and side hill stuff that you almost can't pedal all the way through without hitting your pedals on the ground. Lined up with some familiar faces, Neil and Tyler would be 2 that I knew I had to try and not let get away, and I was on the front line with them. We go, and it is probably just over 1/4 mile into the singletrack on the paved road, I am 3rd wheel behind Neil and Tyler, and holding that place going through the first section. I am doing a good job keeping them just in front of me, but can see them starting to pull away slightly, I do have someone on my wheel which was good, kept me motivated to go. I get gapped about 1/2 way through the first lap, and when we got to a spot I let the guy behind me go chase them down as by now I know I have lost contact with them and would not get it back. The end of the first lap I turned in just over 17 minutes, way faster then my pre-ride, and knew I wouldn't be able to keep that pace, so I scaled it back a little for the next few laps.

Lap 2 was basically maintaining my position and trying to figure out how to ride the course cleanly, did a really good job of that on this lap, at this point we were picking up the back end of the SS class which started 1 minute before us, much respect to those guys especially on this course, not SS friendly. The one thing about this course is there is only 2 places to grab a drink and they both come towards the end of lap, so water management was an issue, especially with it being 90+ degrees out and very humid. At the end of this lap on the road section I picked up one of the SS guys spinning away, he jumped on my wheel and drafted me to the entrance of the trail again which was helpful to him. I finally thought I had this course figured out, was on top of one of the ridges on the back section, and BAM, I was on the ground, apparently I clipped a tree with my bars and was laying across the trail. Now to pick myself back up and try and regain my mental focus and get back into it. I was doing a good job of keeping with lap times of around 18-19 minutes.

Going int lap 4 I saw Tom Anderson from Rassy's on the road, catch up to him and let him to jump on my wheel on the road section, and he was saying the Ryan from Rassy's who was just in front of me on lap 2 was still only about a minute up there and I could probably catch him. I did all I could, but by now I was starting to feel the pain in my legs, and also a little pain in my lower back, not sure what that was all about though, and ended up dropping it to the little ring and spinning up the steep climbs instead of trying to power them in the middle ring. This course was no longer fun at all and it turned into a death march to just get through it to the end. I never did see Ryan in the few spots I thought I would be able to, so my chase was over, and decided I was good as long as noone else caught me. By now we were starting to lap the back end of the Cat 2 field, it is amazing the range of riders this class covers, the top 3 or so should be in the Cat 1's and the back 5 or so are ones that just came up from the Cat 3's. Back through the road section for the final time heading into lap 5.

I did get a chance to see Rick ahead of me on one section, and decided he would be my carrot and I would try and chase him down, but had nothing left in the legs for any speed, and never able to get up to him, I knew he still had 2 more laps after this one so he was just trying to get through it. I think I was able to ride the whole 5th lap cleanly, dropping to where I could spin helped out a lot, and also knowing the race was almost over was a relief. Came across the line in 1:35:08 which I know was a good time for this course, just not 100% sure where that put me overall.

Waited around a little to watch others finish, and then went to change before coming back for results. That was a big cluster, and instead of posting results they just announced the top 3 in each class, and I knew I wasn't one of them so I had no clue how I did leaving there. Angela did get a gift card from one of the local bike shops and a prize off the table, she grabbed a wind breaker, and Salem got a new bike computer for his road bike. After they did awards they had a hill climb setup behind registration, cash entry $1 per try, and I usually am a good climber so I tried it out, ended up being tougher then I thought, never got the a clean run into it so didn't get too far. It was however won by Adam P who was on a SS, he had it dialed in and just powered up it.

Result finally came out and it turns out I ended up in 5th overall for the Cat 2's and 4th in the Cat 2 Open for the series category. Next race for the IMBCS is Ida Grove, but not sure if we are making it to that one as it is a 4 hour drive one way, very fun course though, so we shall see.

As always pictures are here

Friday, May 14, 2010

IMBCS #3 Waverly

This past Sunday was the 3rd race in the series, Camp Ingawanis Boy Scout camp near Waverly. I was originally not intending on doing this race as I was on-call for work this week and couldn't find anyone to cover it being it was Mother's Day. Thursday afternoon I was able to nail down a coworker to cover the time I needed to head up and race, so right in the middle of my rest week I was going to be racing my bike.

Got up there around 9:15 as they were having a youth race at 10:05 that we told the boys they could do, so we get them all registered and set up to race. They did a shortened version of the full course, but still had a good mix of hills, and singletrack for the kids, so I offered to ride behind them and make sure they all found their way around the course the first lap. Salem took off on the opening climb and was ahead quite a bit, and Kaden wasn't too far behind. After the first lap I went ahead to where Salem was at and followed him through the course. He ended up coming across the line in 1st, and a couple minutes later there was a heated battle between Kaden and one of the youth girls, and a sprint finish at the end put Kaden in 2nd, good racing for them.

I then took off up the hill and decided to check out the first 2 miles or so of trail so I knew what to expect at the start. The opening hill is always a killer, good way to separate the pack a little before hitting the woods, then it is some really flowing trail down to the river. Got to a point where I knew how to get back to the car and decided I had seen enough. Got back with plenty of time before my 11:05 start time.

Lined up after the Cat 1's took off, front row, left side, best line for getting up the hill, so go through the usual pre-checks, bike in big ring, check, fork locked out, check, ready to go, check. They give us the countdown from 10 and I know at this point it is on, GO, and I am off towards the hill, get clipped in right away and sprint up the hill, holeshot into the woods again, I don't quite have the same gap as I did at Sylvan Island, but a few seconds. I am not sure who is behind me at this point, but know there was a couple fast guys right there. The first section I am riding pretty strong, and knowing I am not holding anyone up, one almost missed turn, wanted to go left, but the trail went right, oops, thankfully I could regroup and not lose anything there. By this point I am feeling some pressure from behind and know there are a couple guys that want to get around, I knew it opened up shortly, so as soon as it did 2 guys get by me, and now I have Ryan Neipert from QC FORC on my wheel, neither of us had ridden this section beforehand, so I asked if he wanted to go around, and he declined as long as we were keeping the leaders in sight, so I did my best to do so. Now we hit the climbing sections of the race course, first one comes and it is a grinder with the trails being a little more then tacky from the rain a couple days before, so standing wasn't an option. Next up is the rock garden, and the guy infront of us bobbles the entrance, causing me to have to unclip, not wanting to lose any more spots I keep going without being in my pedals for the first section, finally get in just before the huge rock drop off, clean that section and we are off again. Descending again which mean we will be going back up, so I let Ryan and another guy go so I didn't hold them up any longer. The best climb come at about a mile from the finish, you come down to a low spot, and then it is a climb up in basically a gully that is about 3 feet deep, exposed roots, and switchbacking up. Come down that and it is across the bridge, short road section, then down to the start finish line.

Lap 2 starts with me letting a group of 4 guys go, including a couple of the SS guys, up the hill I try and just maintain their pace as long as I can, which isn't long, at this point I can feel that I haven't ridden all week, and fatigue has set in, so I just tried to make the best of it. Was riding along with on of the SS guys for a good amount of the lower section, but as soon as we hit the hills, he to me he was cramping, so he let me go ahead of him and we would go back and forth we me having the advantage on the hills with my gears, and him catching back up to me on the flatter sections. This time we had gotten to the rock garden and nobody was infront of us, so I was able to be in the right gear and just flow through it, feeling pretty good now knowing we had just 2 more climbs to go. We caught up to Brittany McConnell on the first climb, so that was a good time for me to be able to rest a little and not try and pass her on the climb, so once it opened up again at the top we went around and now there was 3 of us together. Back to the final big climb up through the gully and the SS guy opted to run the section due to the steepness of it, and I was just powering through it, back down to the road and got passed by the other guy that was with us, tried to match his speed, but had no power left in the legs at this point. Final section of singletrack, lost the guy in front of us, and has the SS guy right on my wheel, was able to hold him off as it was a downhill run into the finish line, and had the gear advantage.

Came across the line in just over an hour and four minutes, knowing I was out of the top spot it would just be a waiting game to see where I ended up when the got results sorted out. Got some food and waited, they started getting this posted, and I was 10th overall in the Cat 2 combined, and 7th place Cat 2 Open. I knew going into it I wouldn't have the results I did at the other 2 races, but still pleased with where I finished. Next race up is Summerset Shootout in Des Moines on the 23rd, so back to some serious training for me this weekend.

As always pictures can be found here

Monday, April 26, 2010

Decorah MTB TT

This is one of those races I have heard about for the past couple years, but never made it up to because it was always the same weekend as the Old Capitol Crit in Iowa City. This year though it is part of the IMBCS Series so it was put on the calendar, and I am glad it was. This was the 20th running of TT's in Decorah for them, the race is ran rain or shine, and once again this year it would be rain. The trails were slick in spots, mostly the exposed roots on the climbs were the spots that would prove to be challenging.

I did pre-register so I was able to select my start time, I wanted to get going early because there was still the threat of rain all day. I got the 30th start time leaving the start at 10:30, got a decent warm-up on the rollers before starting as there was really nowhere else to warm-up, and roller up to the start line with about 10 minutes to start. The first 200 yards or so was a paved road leading up to the singletrack, and once you hit the woods you start climbing, really slick on the first couple parts, but was able to just sit and spin up them for the most part. Bobbled one section and took part in my first of about 5 or so hike a bike sections, but unlike in the past where I would just work my way up them at a decent pace I know I had to run them, so off I was running. We started in 1 min intervals and within the first 3/4 of a mile I had caught 2 guys that started ahead of me. The first 2 miles would be basically switchbacking up and down the frontside of the hill, almost to the point of going all the way back to the bottom only to have to climb back to the top. By mile 3 I had caught I believe 5 of the people that started before me, and was just trying to maintain a good pace.

We have now dropped down the backside of the hill and into a valley between 2 hills, so that means time to climb again. This next climb was a nice one, about 1/2 mile in length, rocky, and climbed about 200 feet verticly, I had not caught up to anyone in a while, but could start seeing people in the next couple sections ahead, so I had something to shoot for. That is the one thing I don't like about the TT is you have noone behind you pushing you all the time, and usually you don't have anyone in front of you to chase. Now we get into the really technical sections of the course, lots of off-camber side hill riding, plenty of log crossings, and really tight corners. Make it through there passing about 5 more guys, and I come up to the pine tree section and notice a jersey, it was Kurt Benson, I went past him, and was just flowing through the pines, almost a 1/2 mile section, and at one point I thought I missed a turn because there were no course markings, nothing, but finally found one and was back on the right track. Made my way back down this hill and know I was getting close to the finish, would have to climb part of the first hill once again to make it back over, dropped down through another rock garden section and down to the pavement, cross that and down to the river trail, which was mainly flat once you got through the first section, threw it into the big ring and just hammered it out to the finish line.

Looking back I would have liked to be able to pre-ride the course, maybe I could have pushed it more in some sections. Headed over to T-Bock's where they would have the results and awards ceremony, so while waiting we ordered a couple plates of fries, and a Snakebite, which is now one of my favorite drinks, Woodchuck and Guinness, sweet.

Finished the 11.2 mile race in 1hour 13minutes and 04seconds which would be good enough for a 2nd Place in Mens 32-33 category (got a sweet plaque for that) 18th Place Overall out of 87 finishers and 2 Place for the IMBCS Series in the Cat 2 Open class.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sylvan Island Stampede

Sunday brought us to the Quad Cities for the first Mountain Bike Race of the 2010 season, and the start if the IMBCS Series. The weather would be much nicer then last year with temps in the low 70's and sunny, it would prove to be some fast lap times, and huge crowds. We had gone down the day before to pre-ride a couple laps, and I am really glad we did that, trying to pre-ride in the morning can prove to be a hassle on some courses.

We arrived pretty early which was good because sometimes parking can be a pain, but they had guys out directing us where to go, so all was good there. We went and got registered, the kids were doing the kids race at 11:15 so we walked around looking for good spots to take pictures and also watch some of the Novice Race. Got the kids to their race, and I warmed up for a little while they were doing that.

I made sure to show up to the line early so I could get a good spot on the front row, I had heard there was 119 of us in the Cat 2/Womens Open Races, so we would all be on course at the same time. This year the Women were sent off 4 minutes before us, as they are a much smaller group with 25 of them compared to the 90+ of us. Off they went, and we waited, talk about a long 4 minutes. I made sure I was in my big ring and had my fork locked out. The start is a 6 foot or so wide trail that would funnel down into a single track on the other side of the island which is about .2 miles away, so not too long.

From my past experience you want to be in the front, so the whistle blows, I clip in and go. I once again have the holeshot heading towards the singletrack, and after the race I would find out I was doing 29.6mph along that section on the start. First lap has begun, and I am leading for quite a while. We do start catching the tail end of the womens field, and they were pretty good about letting us go by when we caught up to them. Before this lap was over I was in 5th place or so and we have caught almost half the womens field. Onto lap 2 I am feeling pretty good, and know I just have to maintain the pace I have been going at. I do lose another position to one of the Junior racers, so no biggie there. By now I have a pretty good handle on where I am at on the course and know where to push and where to sit up for a second and recover.

Lap 3 starts with being able to see some more guys about a section or so behind me, so I keep turning the pedals over the best I can, and try to maintain my pace. By now I have worked my way almost through the entire womens field with the exception of maybe the top 5. Still feeling pretty good I am basically in cruise control mode now and feeling the flow of the Island. I did get caught by another one of the 40+ guys before the lap ended, and he followed me around for a bit before it opened up and I let him go ahead of me, I tried holding his wheel for a little bit, but wasn't able to. Final lap and I am feeling the pace starting to get to me, but know there are guys coming. The sections between the tight twisty singletrack are big ring hammerfest and making sure I don't slip any. I am now over half way through the final lap and have a pretty decent gap on the next guy behind me, and know I am not gaining on the guy in front so I just have to hold this pace. Come into the final straight to the finish which was the same as the start .2 miles of flat fast trail, so back into the big ring and bring it home.

I come across the line in 1hour 23minutes 20seconds, and from start to finish my lap time only went up 56seconds with times of 20:19 20:48 21:00 and 21:15. I am very pleased with my result here, 7th overall and 3rd in my Category. Next race up is in 2 weeks in Decorah, and from what I have heard I better bring my climbing legs.

Pictures up here

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010 Training so far

I have been riding quite a bit this year in the first couple months, and have managed to stay off the rollers for a good amount of it. Temps have been warm enough to allow me to be able to ride outside quite often on the weekends which has been really nice, and makes me want to ride more then just sitting there aimlessly pedaling in the same spot.

I did start off with doing about 6 weeks of low effort rides, some longer then others, so not a total base workout, but no real intensity, so hopefully I will not burnout mid-season like last year, that was a huge blow to my motivation.

I did go and get a fitting done for my road bike 3 weeks ago at Geoff's Bike and Ski and that has made a huge difference in my comfort on the bike. I can go for longer periods of time without the feeling of constantly adjusting my position on the saddle so I can go further. I am going back in tomorrow morning to have Kevin check on a few minor things with the fit, but that is the great thing about having them so close is I can go back and have him make these tweeks. So after that I will be riding back home from there, should make about a 50 mile ride out of it.

Today I went out in search of hills as part of my training to get ready for the Decorah MTB TT coming up in April. I have never ridden up there, but hear the climbing is pretty brutal so I want to be ready for it. Ended up finding 1660 feet of climbing in 28 miles that I can hit from my house, so I will be incorporating that into my usual training once a week.

Video from today's ride here

And the power profile

So far so good, hope the rest of my March goes good, first race is April 11th Sylvan Island Stampede in the Quad Cities.