10/24/11

Doing the Dirty Du with my Daughter...

I have asked my daughter for the past 4 years to join me in CITA's Dirty Duathlon as a relay team where she would do the running portion and I would do the biking portion. I had no illusions of winning, just doing a father/daughter activity and participating for the CITA cause.

Year one response: "Nope!"
So I did it solo.

Year two response: "Nope!"
So I did the race with a college student of mine who was trying to get back into shape and lose some weight.

Year three response: "Nope!"
So I did it solo.

Year four response: "Do I have to?" My response: "Yes, I would appreciate it."
Family pressure kicked in and she basically resigned to the force and agreed to do it. My summary of that exchange is way too brief compared to the 48 hours leading up to Sunday's race. You'll have to trust me on that...

I got her out of bed on Sunday to come and do the new "Beginner" race the Dirty Du added this year. She was only willing to run for 2 miles and I had to be at work by 2:30 which meant I couldn't do the 1 pm longer race (with her or by myself). Her face was filled with more anger and disgust for making her do this to begin with, but I was banking on her having memories for years to come of the father-daughter effort. Yeah, right. Try and convince a 16 year old smack in the middle of "my parents are so uncool and weird" years about any warm and fuzzy relationships with their parents.

We got registered and I did a little warm up on the bike while she stretched and looked glum. The runners took off at 11 am and I think her anger helped her jump off the line in 3rd place going up the first hill of hillside. By the end of the hillside section, she had dropped back to fourth from last place. By the time she got to the start/finish area where I was waiting, she had dropped two spots (only one person behind her). One of the guys ahead of her racing solo was still changing his shoes in the pit area, so I was able to take off on the bike ahead of him. I knew I could catch up to some on the bike, but not sure in just one lap of only 3 miles how I would be able to make up very much time.

As I approached the first rider ahead of me, I quickly realized that this was the Beginner Du and to be careful in passing as I saw how cautiously slow he was riding. I called out ahead and was able to pass him before the first bridge. I didn't see anybody else on Hillside, and flew through Hillside with only one error (didn't get downshifted before crossing the creek and was stuck in a huge gear which meant I couldn't climb out of there and didn't want to break my already broken and repaired chain). I pushed the bike up a few feet and hopped on to finish the climb.

After the pavement section and heading up into the woods, I spotted another rider ahead of me a few hundred yards. By the time I reached the top of that climb I had narrowed that gap to 100 feet. I caught him and passed him on the first descent. I kept pushing and started picking off riders one by one. Obviously, being the Beginner Du, handling skills, and negotiating singletrack at race speed gave me an unfair advantage. I came up behind one rider who immediately increased his pace and settled into a nice CAT II XC race speed. Unfortunately, with me on his tail making him nervous and pushing his pace, he didn't have the skill to handle one turn and went down hard. I asked if he was okay and he said he was fine, so I forged ahead. I caught two more riders in the final singletrack section and passed them before dropping the chain onto the big ring for the final climb and descent out of the woods. I stood and sprinted up the pavement to the finish line. In the end, I had made up a lot of time and passed everyone except the lead runner/rider who had about a 4 minute gap on everyone else.

When I rolled across the finish line, my daughter came up to me with a perplexed/surprised look and asked me how I was able to pass all those people and come across the line in 2nd place overall. Her "glum" and "angered" look turned to one of surprise, joy and maybe even a small hint of "warm and fuzzy Dad/Daughter accomplished something together" expression. Who knows, but my goal of creating some sort of memory that she could have just may have been met? Score one for Dad!!!

Not that it was any sort of race accomplishment for me as I should not be riding in the Beginner Race (especially judging by the negotiating skills of those I passed), but for her 1st ever event as the beginner and joining her old, uncool and weird Dad - I think she was tickled we ended up 1st in the relay and 2nd overall. At least she was speaking to me in the car on the way home and sat down to have lunch with me on our deck where she actually smiled.

That's no guarantee she will do the longer event with me next year, but I'll try and use the warm and fuzzy feelings to make it happen. ;-]

Thanks to CITA for a fun event, perfect weather and the cool pink socks!!!

10/11/11

Record Turnout at The Mullet!!!

What a great day of racing, weather, food, drink, fellowship and fun! 155 racers pulled into the Lake Ahquabi State Park to toe the line for $1800 in prize money, $850 in T-Shirts, $380 in very unique medals, and a table full of Schwag from Oakley, Rasmussens, Cliff Bar, Saris, and CTS.

Race results are here.

We had a huge turnout last year with 133 racers which was overwhelming. I learned from the experience and took steps to improve and handle that kind of growth in the event to make the 4th year even bigger and better. My goal was to come close to the 2010 number of 133 racers again this year - especially since I took on some financial risk for the expense of electronic chip timing (another $1K) and the porta-potty rentals ($127). This year divided the race into two segments: a real 3+ hour marathon race or IMBCS #10 XC race with specific number of laps 4/3/2/1 depending on CAT. I was pleased with the turnout for both and prize money was guaranteed at $250 for 1st place in both the men's open and women's open of the marathon and the XC CAT I races.

I also teamed up with CITA (Central Iowa Trails Association) to make The Mullet Fall Classic a CITA fundraiser. I have to say, that was a great addition. The post race, end of the IMBCS Mountain Biking Race season party was a blast. Beer Garden, homemade chili, burgers and brats on the grill, pot luck salads, desserts, chips, etc... - all of it had everyone smiling for a few hours after the race. The weather was a blessing as it hit 80 degrees with clear skies and a very slight wind to keep things from getting too hot.

The trail was in good shape thanks to all the hours put in by volunteers, including two CITA trail work days. That took some of the load off of my grooming of the trails and allowed me to be able to focus on other details of organizing everything between my mowing, lopping, raking, marking, clearing hours which I always underestimate how much time is involved to get nearly 7 miles of trail in shape for a race. A big thanks to Jed Gammell, Rob Versteegh and Oakley, Sterling Heise and Rasmussen Bike Shop, Tom Anderson (and his family!!), Matt McCutchan, Troy Pearson, Al Boone, Ron Cooney, Pete Parvi, Scott Sumpter, Tara Starr, Alexa Brown, the 7 fraternity brothers from Lamda Chi, Josh Shipman and the Lake Ahquabi staff, Nancy Stirek, Craig Harding, Justin Hankins, and all of those who helped put things together food, trail and volunteer wise for the 2011 Mullet.

There were growing pains again this year and not everything went as smoothly as it could have. Jed and I both failed to bring a printed out list of the actual 73 qualifiers (those that registered before noon on September 30th) for the free t-shirts, so distribution of those was flawed. That's our bad and it won't happen again. Apologies to the few within the 73 that saw their t-shirts snagged up by everyone else who thought they were free for the taking.

Talks began immediately after the event between Ryan Feagan (from Nebraska Psycowpath Series), Nancy Stirek, Craig Harding and myself about streamlining the waiver process with Raceregister.net to avoid any hand writing by me on the forms. We also talked about how to speed up the chip assignment process, as well as pros/cons of online pre-registration and day of registration solutions. Psycowpath didn't allow pre-registration, but liked my format of the discounted entry fee for pre-registration online, and a non-discounted fee for day of race registration. Ryan thinks he might try that next year as it captures a lot of the "I'll wait until I see what the weather is going to be like" crowd that decides within the final 24 hours to race or not.

Check-in wasn't too bad, but the two lines were long and a bit of a bottleneck that shouldn't be involved with an event that is pre-registered for 123 of the 155 racers. Having to sign those dang waivers (legally, it must be a hand written signature) slows things down. Another growing pain was my guesstimate of 250 bottles of water (same amount I bought last year) was not enough. I needed to have purchased at least twice as much with the turnout and all of the volunteers. Beer outnumbered water by a margin of 5 to 1 (at least) as everyone else brought so much beer - but no water!!

Jed and Rob rode last year, so it was my turn to ride this year. Unfortunately, after a good jump off the line and in the front group of 4, I broke my chain about a 1/2 mile after the start!!! I couldn't believe it! A DNF at Sugarbottom with a blown rear hub and now a broken chain?!!!? By the time I walked back to the starting area, turned in my timing chip and reported myself as a DNF, used the Kybo and then decided to fix my chain, I was probably 15 minutes behind. But Tom Anderson and Pete Parvi convinced me to fix my chain and get back out there in spite of it. So I grabbed my timing chip again and said I was not a DNF and headed out to see how the course was riding and mix it up. All for fun and well worth coming in Dead Frickin' Last in my division. I did make up some good time though, but stopped for Parady Boatwright who crashed and hit a tree. I saw the fall and she hit her head for a bit of a stinger. I helped her up and made sure she was okay before getting back on the bike. I motored on to finish and was only 2 seconds away from not being DFL. ;-}

Other than that, things were fine. Thanks to all who came out to race, brought food, helped, volunteered, provided feedback and had a great time.

Now on to my real job filled with non-stop problem solving - stage directing the opera at Simpson.

10/3/11

The Mullet Fall Classic!!!

Fall weather is gorgeous this week with temperatures in the 70-80 range. The leaves are turning colors. The course is marked and ready. Trail work is completed. The food and drink are ordered. Custom number plates are here. The custom special Mullet awards for 1st/2nd/3rd in each category arrive later this week. The prize money is in hand. Electronic Chip Timing Conference Call tomorrow to get it all set up. 87 are registered online to date (the number keeps growing every day).

If you are in Iowa - this is a must attend, gotta experience it event. Race it. Ride it. Short distance. Long distance. Your choice. Come on out and have some fun.

Big mountain bike party for all after your race is finished. Burgers, dogs, chips, desserts, a massive beer garden will all be part of the fund raising for CITA (Central Iowa Trails Association). All my proceeds after expenses will go directly to CITA. What a great cause!

Everyone who is anyone in terms of mountain biking in Iowa will be there. ;-]

Sunshine and 77 degrees on race day for all. Come on out and let your mullet down to soak up some sun and fun.

BB