Saturday, June 28, 2008

That wasn't so bad

Even though we had heavy rain in the early morning hours the race course for the Stony Marathon wasn't too muddy. I got the most mud on me from being behind people when we were on the two track and we were riding through puddles. I was actually hoping for more rain during the race because some of the mud in the singletrack started turning to the consistency of peanut butter. The rain would have made it easier to ride through.

I wasn't sure how I would be feeling since my legs and HR haven't seemed to be cooperating with any higher intensity riding. I figured I would just hang out in the back and see what happened.

From the start the pace was much less frantic than a normal XC race, probably because we knew we would be racing for close to five hours. I had no problem staying with my age group as we made our way around the course. We had one guy go off the front but no one made an attempt to chase him down.

Once the trail opened up onto the relatively flat two track I felt like I could probably open it up some since I knew I would have problems on the hills. I seemed to be able to ride fairly fast on the flats without a problem. I took the lead of our group and slowly stretched it out, eventually catching and passing the early break away.

I stayed in first for the end of the first lap but half way through the second lap the original front runner caught me on a hill but then I caught him back again on the flats. We traded positions through the rest of the lap and half of the next until i backed off, trying to at least salvage a finish. I was concerned that if I raced him instead of riding my own pace I wouldn't finish at all.

About half way through the race I started getting lots of cramps in various leg muscles as the legs seemed to stop working well. The cramps would come and go throughout the remaining three laps.

One time my rear wheel slid out on a root and I fell, causing both my legs to instantly cramp, much to the amusement of the rider I was passing as he was pushing his bike up the hill. I lay there for a few seconds trying to stretch the legs out. I managed to get back on and keep going but I could feel my legs wanting to stop at any second.

I managed to hang on for second place. With this race worth double points in the local USAC series it gave me a good chance for a top three overall position at the end of the season. Of course, there are a few more races that I have to do well at. Anything can still happen.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Here we go again

Tomorrow is a 60 mile race at Stony Creek Metropark and of course we will have rain and wet conditions to deal with. In fact, we have had quite a bit of rain already this week and the course has been altered to avoid some of the mud.

I rode parts of the course today and surprisingly much of it was dry or just damp. The soil is a sand and gravel mixture on the two track and more clay in the singletrack. Most of the 10 mile loop is on the two track which means mostly just puddles. But it also means picking up a lot of sandy grit to wear away your chain and drivetrain.

I an still having a few issues with having the power fade in a short time so I may not be racing tomorrow and end up taking some time off the bike to fully recover. But it will be hard to avoid the temptation to play in the mud (again).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

At least the grass is growing

The rain has been affecting the riding this year but at least the grass is growing. Of course that means cutting the grass more often. I actually have some grass in spots that hasn't had grass in years.

This weekend was spent working on a new trail connector at Addison Oaks as well as betting in a couple of training rides while trying to avoid the rain showers. Of course it rained before the trail work and the brush was wet, meaning we soon were also. The section of trail we are working on is like a jungle, very thick undergrowth that is difficult to clear.

Later in the afternoon I headed over to Stony Metropark to ride next week's marathon race course. It had been a while since I've ridden there plus I rode the bike with the power meter to get a feel for what kind of wattage a lap would have.

This morning I went out for a longer ride and hit up the high school trails as well as Bald Mountain north and south and Addison Oaks. It was a beautiful morning to be out. I flushed a large buck at the school; the deer had a nice rack growing.

Next Saturday is the marathon MTB race, 6 laps that should take somewhere around 5 hours to complete. True to form, they are calling for a chance of rain and thunderstorms almost every day through race day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lumberjack 100

Carrying on this year's trend of rain affecting my races, the area that the Lumberjack race was held at received over 11 inches of rain on Thrusday night. The city of Manistee was also hit by high winds, bringing down many big limbs and trees, some onto buildings. The city was also without power.

The motel we stayed at was about 15 miles east and not affected. The trail was also surprisingly dry, thanks in a large part to its sandy soil base. There were a few trees down on the portion we rode but nothing like the damage we saw in town.

Race morning was clear and cool. After a two mile start on the road I was in a pretty good place entering the trail and continued to work my way forward. Coming into the back part of the course, a little more than half way through the 25 mile loop, we encountered the water filled trenches we had heard about. There was no place to go but through them. The water in some spots was about two feet deep of balck water. You had no idea what was underneath. Other spots along this stretch were dry, teasing you into thinking that your were done with the water and then you hit another stretch.

I felt good until starting the second lap when my back started acting up. I had done something to it last week while working on the school race trails. I also was losing power. I had noticed that since the Mohican 100 race two weeks ago my heart rate didn't seem to be responding to hard efforts. I have not determined the cause yet.

I finally decided to abandon the race at the end of the second lap. Since I will probably not be able to do the minimum to qualify for the NUE series we decided not to do the Wilderness 101 in Pennsylvanial next month. Especially with the price of gas. This trip was only four hours each way and cost $140 in gas alone. The upside of stopping early is that we were able to get home last night instead of this afternoon.

I now need to figure out what to do to salvage the rest of the season. And think about racing in general and how I want to proceed.

Lake Orion High School Results June 11

Results from the June 11, 2008 race. We may have more races later this year. Thanks to everyone for coming out and thanks to our sponsors Cycletherapy, Rochester Bike Shop and Peppy's Pizza.

Read this document on Scribd: June 11 08 final results

Sunday, June 08, 2008

If I've got a race it must be raining

It seems to be the case this year, every race I've been involved with,except one, has had precipitation as a factor before or during the event. Starting with the Pontiac TT in April where it snowed the morning of the event to today's race at Brighton when we had early morning thunderstorms to make the trails slick. So far any Lake Orion High School race date has had rain as an attendance factor and it may be again this week. Even next week's Lumberjack 100 keeps having rain move in and out of the forecast.

I went out to the Brighton XC race to use it as a fitness maintenance race, in preparation for next week's Lumberjack. The overnight thunderstorm and temperatures in the 90's did not really get me excited about racing but I figured I would at least get in a couple of hours of high intensity training in.

During my warmup the HR never really came up, similar to what I experienced yesterday in training. There were only 5 of us in our class and I had already decided I was not going to try and chase the leader. Once we started I saw that I couldn't even keep up right from the gun. I settled into 3rd for most of the 1st lap to get an idea from the person in front where the trail was going. I hadn't been on the trail in about 5 years.

My HR was still down from normal XC races but I felt fairly comfortable, just not quite as much power as I would expect. But I went past the 2nd place guy mid way through the first lap as I was climbing better and my tires seemed to hook up better in the slippery spots. I opened a small gap and increased it slightly by the end of lap one.

I was still feeling OK but sensing a power loss as the hills became a little tougher than the first lap even though the trail was drying out. I also saw that my HR seemed lower than before. I didn't think it made much sense to push and eventually the third place guy caught up and went by. I decided to end my misery early and pulled out after two laps. I was calculating that total race time would be around 2 hours and 45 minutes; I didn't want to push myself that hard in the heat.

I'll admit that I had zero motivation for this race but I can probably count on one hand all the races I DNF'd since I started racing. It's not something I normally do. But I figure maybe it was better to live to fight another day, or, lose the battle to wage a better fight next week

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lake Orion High School MTB Race June 4

The second race in the series was run this past Wednesday under the threat of rain. Rain the night before and heavy fog the morning of the race meant the ground was wet on top but relatively firm. Areas of drainage from the ball fields did get pretty squishy.

A brand new section of singletrack was used and was slick in numerous spots due to the clay surface. It changed the outcome of a few races since compared to the previous race, the course now took a little more in the way of bike handling skills.

Pictures can be found here

The results

Read this document on Scribd: June 4 08 final results

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Swiftwick Socks = All Day Comfort

I am pleased to announce a new sponsor to my racing endeavours, Swiftwick Socks. I ran into this company last year when I did the inaugural Dirt, Sweat and Gears race down in Tennessee. We were given a pair of their socks in our goody bag. At the time they were a start-up company that I knew nothing about but once I put on their socks my feet were in heaven. I began to use that pair for all of my longer rides and races. The wool blend works in all weather conditions; hot, cold, wet, it didn't matter. I think I wore the same pair in 5 or 6 endurance events so far and they show no signs of wear.

I had been in contact with them off and on over the winter to try and purchase some more pairs but their website and on-line store was still under construction. I did make email contact and ran into them again at the Cohutta this spring.

One thing led to another and they wanted to add me to their list of sponsored riders, or their "5% Faster Club". A package showed up this weekend with all sorts of pairs of socks in various styles. They have really branched out since last year. They even had their socks on the feet of some of the big time roadie pros in the tours.

I'm looking forward to trying out their other blends of socks as well as the wool ones I've come to love. If you get a chance check them out on-line or look for me at one of the races. Chances are I'll be sporting their socks and have samples you can look at. Hopefully you will be able to find them at a LBS near you in the future.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Mohican 100 Short Recap

I'll post something longer in the future, complete with pictures, but for now here's the short version of the Mohican 100.

We were lucky to escape the severe storms that were around but it did rain overnight, enough to cause the singletrack and wooded sections to be muddy and slick. Starting in town this year was fun but not too many in the sleepy town of Loudonville were awake to watch us roll through at 7:00 am.

Out of town up a steep paved climb and onto the dirt roads before hitting some wet two track and then across a creek to the first hike-a-bike section. Then the singletrack that went on forever. I was amazed at how many people had difficulties riding this stuff.

Finally out on to a little bit of road and then intermittent singletrack and road sections interspersed throughout the course. The sun came out and it got really warm, at least for those of us from the north. I think it was the warmest day I've ridden in this year. I thought my body and face were on fire. I really wanted to quit about 5 hours in.

I kept plugging, or maybe slogging is a better word as the hills seemed harder the longer I rode. I finally got to the base of the dam and actually rode farther up it this year than last. Of course, that's not saying much.

I ended up finishing almost to the second with the same time as last year. Given the wet trail conditions maybe I was actually faster than last year. But my efforts only netted me a 4th place this year; last year it was good for 2nd. The same guys that took the top three spots at Cohutta finished in the same order at Mohican. But I was a little closer to 2nd and 3rd. And I beat last year's winner again. But the guy who won our class once again spanked us, winning by over an hour and a half. He would have finished in the top 20 overall.

This year has a lot tougher competition than last year. So far it looks doubtful I will make the top three for the series.

Next up is the Brighton stage race and then Lumberjack. I'm keeping the intensity up to try and maintain a high readiness for the next 100 in two weeks.