Thursday, May 28, 2009

Heading North

Heading out tomorrow for the Mohican 100 to see if I can improve upon the 8th place SS from the Cohutta... We'll see... I haven't exactly been on my mountain bike lately, but hopefully road fitness will reign supreme.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Racing my other 29er

I don't do too much road racing, but it's fun to do one every now and then. I decided to enter the local Omnium (TT, Crit, Road Race), minus the TT because it started an hour away at 7am... Way too early. I upgraded to Cat 4 last year, but hadn't done any races as one yet.

Having never done a Crit, I was sort of nervous, but all the corners were safe and it was actually quite fun. We even got a little teamwork in, as we had a rider in a two-person break, and formed up with 4 at the front to try and slow the pack down a bit. The break got swallowed up in the last 100-200 meters, but one of the SCO teammates won the sprint. As for me, I had decent position going into the last lap, but had to bridge a small gap, and lost a lot of places, gained them back, and found myself 20 ft off the back of the lead group going into the slightly downhill sprint (~.2 mi). I went hard, but didn't make it to it, and got passed by about 20 people, and just sat up to finish in 30th or so. Survived with no injuries, so that's a victory, and it was a good time.

The road race the next day looked to be a better course for me, with 2 major climbs, with 20 miles of rollers in between, and 13 miles of downhill to the finish from the last climb. It started well, with good position in the front during the first climb, but my legs hated me, and I was gapped about 30 sec off the lead group of 6... The chase group that formed was super-unorganized, and was going nowhere... Our team kind of killed it, as we had 3 out of 6 in the break. But the other 8 or 9 guys along with us did not cooperate at all. One or two guys would pull for a bit, and everyone else would sit. The break said they averaged 24 between the climbs... I would estimate the "chase" at 18.

After the second climb, I was in a group of 3 making it over first, then forming up with 3 others at the bottom, and tried to stay away for the downhill stretch. We got caught though, and there were probably 15 or 20 guys in the group now. At this point, no one was working, and we coasted/soft pedaled down. One of my teammates, Phillipe, pulled for a while around 22 (on a road you could hammer down in the low 30s easily), and then I pulled beside him and we dropped to 18. No one else came up. After the 1k to go, people finally started jumping around to sprint for 7th. I missed a jump, and got swallowed up, and finished 19th.

The road race was fun though, with nice climbs and fast twisty descents. I still can't believe I missed the group on the climb, but oh well... It is what it is. I need to get a lot better at jumping on wheels when people go. It's amazing how a split second delay in jumping or being in the wrong gear/cadence is the difference in 15 places in a race. Something to learn from. I won't be hanging up my fat tires and endurance legs anytime soon, but the road races are definitely an entertaining diversion.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Injury Prone

I really don't have too much more to say about DSG. It was miserable, and probably the dumbest thing I've ever done... I got a pic though while I was still riding the first lap...

Since then, I've pretty much been falling apart. My random knee pain has continued since the Cohutta, but is at least getting better. For a while it was the stabbing pain every pedal stroke on the road bike after around 40 miles or so...

The day after DSG, while I was messing around with the water hose, I managed to put a nail through my foot thanks to a section of fence that had fallen down. It turns out that Sanuks with flipie flopie bottoms are not puncture resistant... I should write a strongly worded letter. Anyway, that took me off the bike for nearly a week, but is at about 90% now.

After finally being able to ride again mostly pain free, I managed to find some gravel on a road ride and went down... I came out pretty lucky on the crash, with relatively minor injuries of scrapes on the forearm and shins, a big chunk out of my knee, and some holes in my hands. Bike survived with only a small scratch on the right shifter...

Maybe I should just try and go a week without hurting myself.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mud, Sweat, and No Gears

Short Version:
Worst race ever... I can't say I've ever experienced such misery.

Long Version:
After a week of non-stop rain, Elizabeth and I arrived in Fayetteville to a dry field, and set up our gear in hopes that it would stay that way. After all the normal prep of getting bikes, bottles, and lights all set up, I dropped my bike off for the le mans start. As the director said we had 10 minutes til the start, the skies opened up and it started pouring rain. Muddy clay was spraying everywhere as I was going through the field. After hitting the singletrack, I immediately regretted my choice of dry condition tires, as I was spinning out on everything and sliding around. The ACXs wouold have been a better choice, but only for a little while. The rain kept coming down, and the mud spraying up made for some interesting descents after it shot up into my eyes.

The first lap, although horribly bad by most standards, went by pretty quickly, and I rolled into the pit to switch water bottles and get some new glasses. Going through the field was a little slicker, but the first singletrack sections felt the same. I hiked it up the first 2 bigger climbs, and headed down a longer descent that was 4 inch deep slop. I managed to slide out, come unclipped, and somersault down the hill. After collecting my belongings, I headed up the next little roller and started back into the singletrack. At this point I didn't realize that I wouldn't be riding my bike anymore for the race.

I pushed up a bit of the slicker sections, and the wheels began to collect mud and start to clog up. Within 15 or 20 ft, the wheels were so full of mud, that neither wheel would spin, and I had to stop and pull handfuls of mud off to clear it out. I started pushing again, and the wheels stopped again 20 ft later. I tried to pick up my bike, but it was way too heavy. I'm guessing it weighed somewhere in the 80-100 lb range with all the mud. It was amazing to be trying to push the bike downhill, and both wheels would clog up so bad that it would stop. Pushing uphill was much worse, as you had the same problem, but you were trying to push it uphill with about as much traction as you would expect to have standing in 4 inches of sticky and slick mud.

Elizabeth's bike shows the conditions pretty well...

I wasted almost 3 hours trying to push, carry, and drag my bike around the course, but only made it roughly 5 or 6 miles into the second lap. I finally found a cut out back off the course, and gladly took it back to the field to clean my bike and drink beer. What an amazing waste of time and effort to go try and race this thing. This race has been an awesome event the last 2 years, but I will never ever go back if there is a chance of rain... a shame.

As Ed said, "that was the stupidist thing I've ever done in my entire life."