Friday, August 29, 2008

Dirt Sweet Dirt

But its back to reality this weekend, as it's finally time for the Shenandoah 100. I'm super excited about this race, as everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) has been talking it up nonstop as the best endurance race and party of the year.

I'm back on the Rig again, so that should be a rockin good time. If things can come together, I'm hoping for a top 5 finish after being within a few minutes of one at the Cohutta. I haven't looked at the weather yet, but I'm about 95% sure it will rain... It always does. Heading out early tomorrow, so I should probably be typing less and actually start packing...

Roadie Racin

My day as a roadie ended up going pretty decently. Road races rarely excite me, but the River Gorge race in Chattanooga intrigued me as it ended with a 3 mile climb and summit finish. It turned out to be an awesome course, I would love to have that route as a training ride. Lots of rolling stuff, long steady climbs, short steep climbs, and a crazy fast 50 mph descent thrown in for good measure. The race went pretty much without incident, and I stayed in the top third away from the evil wind for the whole time.

When the climb started, I attacked and got a good gap on the field. No one followed at that point, but about a mile or mile and a half in one guy was pulling up towards me and caught me. We went back and forth for the rest of the climb, with me dropping him a bit and then him catching back up. He gained a good chunk of time on a 30+ mph descent before the last mile, as I was a bit sluggish getting over the big gears cresting the hill. I led the race until he caught me at the 100m mark and went around. The road sort of flattened out and he jumped with 50m or so to go and I just didn't have the legs to go, so I was left with a second place in the cat 5. 3rd was nowhere to be seen. I was sort of disapointed to lose it in the last 100m after leading the entire climb, but thats how it goes somedays. I could throw out a couple of excuses, but I think I'll just go with "I didn't make it to the top of the mountain fast enough" instead.

>Observation 1: Whats with the ginormous roadie numbers? The two numbers we had to wear took up about 60% of the real estate on my back... I could barely get into my pockets with the clutter. And apparantly that wasn't enough, so we had to have bike numbers on the seatpost as well...seriously? Do you want to go ahead and magic marker it on my calf and arms too?

>Observation 2: People do weird stuff. The race started with about 9 miles of flat rolling terrain, and one guy attacked and rode it all by himself... at about 300 yds in front of the group. There really wasn't any teamwork either. Another guy pulled by himself at 30-35 mph for almost 4 miles. I mean, thats awesome and all, but why do that to yourself? And we can't forget about the guy that got really pissed after getting DQed for crossing the yellow line... after getting 3 warnings. Not sure what he was going for there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Waiting for my Rocket

January is a long way away, but I'm already super excited about the newest addition to the stable.

Oooh, Horizontal Dropout Goodness

The rig has been such a great bike, I can only image how much better it will be in shiny carbon flavor and losing 2 pounds. I'm 95% sure it means that I can just drink more beer and still be the same speed, right? And having the classy 29er Crew paintjob will pretty much max out my style points as well. Only 5 months to go...

Monday, August 18, 2008


I could have sworn that Jeremy was out on vacation, but I keep seeing his car around town.

I think it's great that Jeremy has no problem showing his sensitive side. He says that the "poetry of the paint" is a "window into his soul." Whatever that means...

And if you think it looks good now, just wait til he gets around to getting the rainbow racing stripes done.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fontana Night Train

The 2008 Night Train 12 Hour ended up being another good time. After last year’s course of 1200 ft of climbing in 5.5 miles, I was sure they couldn’t add any more climbing. Instead, I was greeted at registration with a new course profile showing 2400 ft of climbing in 9.3 miles. I had a good feeling about the race, as I couldn’t have asked for a course better suited to me. It kind of helps when you have to hold your bike and all your riding gear to break 145 lbs.

This year’s race started once again with a short lemans run. The run was sort of different, as we had to run/jump over all the bikes that were patiently waiting to be picked up. I had a sad moment on the run, as my bling finally bit the dust and broke. Perhaps I’ll write a strongly worded letter to express my disappointment that my 99 cents only bought me a mere 500 miles of offroad bling. So I was left with only the chain for the day. Jeremy Hargroves ended up being the first guy back to the bikes, while I was close enough to the front in 4th or 5th. The course went down a paved road for 100 yards or so before going straight up the steepest climb on the course. I ran the first steep section of the climb, and then middle-ringed it the rest of the way up. It only took middle-ringing it once to keep me in the granny gear every other time up it.

I managed to pass a team guy or two on the climb and was rewarded with some great rolling and twisty NC singletrack. The middle part of the course flowed really well and has some nice little rollers you can carry your momentum over. I totally forgot about a rock garden on a downhill section and took a horrible line through it going way too fast. I don’t know how I managed to stay upright, but I was super thankful my front teeth didn’t end up embedded in a big rock. After some more rolling, the climbing began again, this time with a long gradual climb (maybe 1.5 mile or so?) of doubletrack and fireroad sections. I was glad to see that most all of the climbing added was pretty much smooth and wide open. After reaching the top of the fireroad and getting up a short singletrack climb with switchbacks, it was time to not pedal for a bit and roll back down the mountain.

The new singletrack descent at the top was nice, and connected back to the trail from last year with the Lewellyn descent. This descent is really fast and super rocky, so it definitely bounces you around and does a nice job of making your fingers feel broken with the quickness. After reaching the bottom, all that’s left in the course is a mile or so of rolling singletrack, with 3 or 4 short steep climbs you can just power over. I rolled in for the first lap 2 minutes off of Jeremy. I was with him at the top of the climb, but he crushed me on the descent. I suspected he couldn’t hold that pace for long, as I was going a lot harder than I wanted to at the start.

I didn’t see him at all the next lap, but caught him at the top of the climb during the third lap. We rode together for a bit, and I dropped him a bit on a rolling climb, but he caught me again at the bottom of the Lewellyn descent. I was able to drop him soon after though, and never really saw him again. After this I was putting 4 or 5 minutes a lap on him, and we had both left everybody else way behind. Of course, I didn’t realize how much time I was gaining until 5 or 6 hours later, so I was still working harder than I probably had too. The climbs got more and more fun as the day went on, and the top 1/3 of my cassette was definitely coming in handy. Lewellyn continued to destroy my hands, and I had to double up the fingers on the brakes to make it down after the fourth lap.

The rest of the race went smoothly though, and the pit stops were hovering around 5-10 seconds. Dave and Mike from Infinit nutrition were on hand for the day and did a great job of keeping me fueled up. They were mixing up infinit all day for all the other racers to try as well. Infinit definitely kept me rolling well on the day, as my nutrition for the entire race was just 11 bottles of infinit and ½ a pack of clif bloks. So much simpler than juggling gels and e-caps and the like…

I almost had a nice boost of confidence when I was on my 10th lap and found myself in the bottom 1/3 of my cassette. I was thinking, man, my legs must feel great, I haven't been this far down my cassette in hours. And then I realized I was in the granny gear...

After getting some splits, I realized I only had to do 11 laps, so I was happy to grab the light and get the lone night lap over with. I rolled into the finish with 102 miles in 11:18, with over 26,000 ft of climbing. Definitely good to win a race, and the Superfly was smooth despite all the rocks. I felt surprisingly great the next day, with no soreness at all. If you're looking for a low-key race with a party atmosphere afterwards, the night train definitely fits the bill. Next up for me is an attempt at playing a roadie racer for a day, but then I’m back on the Rig for the Shenandoah 100.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Night Train Quick Stats

Miles: 102
Ride Time: 11:15ish
Climbing: 26,000+ ft

Definitely a tough course and a long day, but I had good legs and ended up winning by about an hour. Full report coming tomorrow.

Friday, August 8, 2008

All Aboard...

Racing returns this weekend with the Night Train 12 Hour race in Fontana NC, presented by none other than Infinit Nutrition. I'm not expecting an easy day, as last year's course had 1200 ft of climbing every 5.5 miles.

I did this race last year, and ended up in third, so we'll try to improve on that. This guy with the tree trunk legs actually won it. I still haven't figured out how that happened with all the climbing, but who knows... The funniest part of last year's race was definitely the start. Jeremy Hargroves got a little bit of a false start on the lemans run, and had a 10 or 15 ft gap when they actually started the race. We were supposed to run around the yellow tent, but no one could see the smaller blue tent behind. Jeremy turned the corner and got smacked down by karma for the head start and went down tangled in a tent line. I was quite entertained.

I've got the classic "run with one hand on the pockets" going on to keep my stuff in them.

The rest of the race went pretty smoothly. I started out in a hole, but ended the last lap only 4 minutes off the leader. I made the cutoff, but didn't go out for an additional one, as I figured bringing back 4 minutes in 5 miles probably wouldn't happen. But I'm excited about this year as the big wheels are going to be a huge advantage in the rocky mess that is Fontana. And after a month of not racing, I definitely feel rested and ready to roll. Should be good times...