7/30/12

Elk River, MN SingleTrack Attack race report...

I will hopefully update this blog post with some race photographs from Elk River later in the week once they are available.

I was looking forward to racing this past Sunday as the forecast for Elk River, MN was low to mid 80's and sunny. That sounded like an excellent respite from the triple digits in Iowa. The week was my 1st in season Build Week, so I had 9 hours of specific work in my legs going into the weekend, but felt pretty good come the weekend. I set the alarm for 5:10 and after I got out of the shower, I heard the rain hitting our roof. I quickly checked the online radar and saw it was raining from Indianola all the way up to the Twin Cities. No problems, I thought - they race rain or shine. So off I went to the great north at 5:30.

Rain, at times, was overwhelming my windshield wipers and that was good because the crops, yards - everything needs it. Rain was heavy in spots coming into the Twin Cities area, but I could see up to the northwest blue sky and that is where Elk River is in relationship to where I was. Sure enough, the sun came out and the pavement started to dry as I made my way around the now closed 494 and crazy detour. That major artery is shut down until November for repairs and they are trying to shove everybody through a small vein as a detour and it is not fun!!!

I pulled into Hillside Park and the gravel road that the race begins on was pretty much a soupy mess. I guess quite a bit of rain must have fallen as the same thing happened last year the night before the race, but the road was not like that. I quickly saw some of the CAT 3 racers riding by on the singletrack as I drove down the lane and their legs and bikes were covered with mud. Oh well, nothing like a fun time in the mud, right? ;-)

In my haste of packing Saturday night, I forgot to pack my permanent number plate. Luckily, you can pay $5 for a temporary one by filling out a form at the registration table. I got registered, suited up, made my drink mix and headed out for some warm up. I heard some CAT 3 racers, post-race, describing what they encountered out there on the trail. It didn't sound too bad and the sun was now out which meant some of the mud and water would dissipate. My legs felt pretty good warming up considering the week's training, and I did enough warm up to feel ready for the race. I went back to the car and got all my final GU's, drink bottles and headed over to the starting line.

My wave had a total of 30 guys line up (all the old guys in their 40's and above). I heard the three top guys in my age division called up as leading the series with their points. One of them, Steve Kapaun, got first place last week and crossed the line 2 1/2 minutes ahead of me at Buck Hill. Another top rider, Gary Santoovjian, was the 2nd Place Winner in the overall series last year. He has been smoking everybody this year - often winning by several minutes - and going into this race he had three 1st place finishes, and one 2nd place finish. So I knew it was going to be tough to hang with those two. I lined up and off we went.

The sloppy road sprint start to the singletrack was long enough that I knew I could easily red line early and not recover before heading into the singletrack, so I was calculated with my opening sprint. I gave enough to be in the top 10-12 or so heading into the singletrack, but not so much that I felt spent and couldn't recover. In spite of that, the old slinky built up as we hit the singletrack with the group having to come to a dead stop around one corner as the traffic build up and the muddy conditions with wet roots backed everyone up. It was only a brief traffic jam, and we were off again. Every opportunity I could, I started moving up and passing. I got stuck behind a slower rider and decided to hang there for a bit to recover, and then I saw that the build up behind me was at least a dozen riders, so I passed him and caught up to the group in front of him - so nothing lost.

This course is known for only 100 foot elevation change, but the amount of short steep climbs, and switchback climbs is pretty unrelenting. Some of them are a bit technical with the roots, rocks, and washed out gullies. Add the wet conditions and they were even more technical. I had the right tires - Nobby Nics - so traction was not an issue for me. However, riders in front of me on just about every other one of these technical climbs were having to dismount and that, of course, blocked my line which meant if I couldn't muscle around them - I had to dismount as well. I used every opportunity to run around them and hop back on the bike. There were crashes from the wet roots and mud which created more opportunities to go around riders. I felt pretty good on lap one, but I was riding in a very conservative manner as I didn't want to go down. I felt my rear tire slip out on a few occasions in corners and on wet roots, but the front tire was never an issue. It was pretty humid out and this is what was giving me the most concern in lap one as my glasses fogged over and I was having difficulty seeing. I didn't want to take them off because there was a lot of mud, sand and grit flying and my eyes needed the protection. Finally, at the first water aid station I asked the volunteers to hit me with water in the face and head which took care of the fog as I headed into the singletrack again.

We had three spots where there was an option to go on the shorter, more difficult (black diamond) trail or the longer, less difficult (blue diamond) trail. On lap one, I took the black diamond at the first option mainly because I wasn't paying attention. I came into the descent pretty hot and it was a rocky descent and the rocks were slick and muddy. I think out of simply not knowing what was there, I made it down safely merely by hanging on for dear life as my tires slipped and slid over it all. In short, I was lucky. I took the longer, easier route on the next 2 options and reminded myself to avoid that black diamond next time around.

Strange thing about this race - nobody passed me. Usually, somebody comes up from behind and passes me at some point, but nobody passed me from the opening sprint to the end of the race. I got into a good rhythm in lap 2 and was passing slower riders from earlier waves. Those unrelenting climbs started to wear on me and I was too stubborn to take it out of the big ring, but rather than attacking every climb - I was just surviving some of them. Traction started to improve as the sun was working its magic and most of the puddles started to absorb into the earth. I asked for the head and face wash at the water aid station again and was feeling pretty good out there.

In the middle of lap 2, I caught up to a rider and saw his back plate said he was in my age category. I figured, this might just be for a podium spot, so I better get working here. He heard me, saw me and increased his effort. I gave chase and we rode together within 10-20 feet of each other for a while. I was hoping to get a bit of recovery and then go into my end of race sprint mode for the final section, but he didn't let up and I was on the gas, taking risks on descents to keep up. We came to the first option for the black diamond or blue diamond and I forgot about it and took the black by mistake. Crap! In the words of Jack Lemmon, I froze up: "Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure." Big fear of the wet and slimy rocks had me going too slow down them this time because I knew what was there and what could happen. I was going so slow, I bobbled and I had to put a foot down to save going over the side. I was stuck with my weight being held by a muddy mountain bike shoe perched on a wet railroad tie while trying to dismount my bike. My balance was so off, I couldn't get my leg up and over my saddle to get off the bike. I think I froze there for a good 15 seconds before I was able to dismount, carry my bike down the "fear" and get going again. RATS!!! Jack Lemmon would be proud of my fear of failure.

No way I could catch the guy in front of me now due to that. I tried valiantly, but the dang unrelenting power climbs were pushing me deep into the red zone and my legs were on fire. I saw him way up there, but I couldn't increase my speed enough to make up the lost time. We rode by a downed rider who had 2 other racers there making sure he was okay. One never likes to see that, but in these conditions it could have been any of us. In the end, the guy I was chasing - Brad Tennis - crossed the line 35 seconds ahead of me for 2nd Place and I ended up in 3rd Place.

I'm not distressed though. My overall time was 1:02 (62 seconds) faster this year and with these conditions over last year to boot. I improved from an overall finish of 55th last year to 41st this year and improved from 4th Place last year to 3rd Place this year. I guess that's progress, right? I was happy I kept the rubber side down and in spite of riding in a more conservative manner and over-braking going into corners based on conditions, I still pulled off a good enough race for a podium.

Although we had a small field of only 7 brave faithfuls in my age category in the post-rain Hill Side Park, the race in the slop and the "greasy in spots" conditions were an excellent challenge for all of us.

SingleTrackAttack2012

Post race in my cool down ride, a couple of people were riding next to me and asked about the cool kit. It's nice the kit continues to receive positive comments...

jersey revision for team

I picked up some lunch on the way home and when I got home, we went to La Casa for Burritos and of course a Margarita or two.

This is my second in season "Build Week" and today called for 3 hours of Zone 2 riding. So I burned off the burrito and drinks this morning on the road bike at the very top end of my Zone 2 before the clouds burned off and temperatures got up to 96. I rode in 79-84 for the entire 3 hours. Sweet!

Rehearsal tonight from 6:30 - 9 up in Des Moines...

7/27/12

Barry Bonds slugs his weight down on the bike...

Why a post on baseball great Barry Bonds? Probably because I have always been fascinated with his baseball skills and career. Amazing hand-eye co-ordination and a joy to watch play the game. Both my son Zack and I have always been big fans.

What about Barry and cycling?

The historical slugger Barry Bonds has been cycling his way to a new physique the past few years since retiring from baseball. I certainly remember enjoying watching him play the game - especially on our trips to San Francisco where I took Zack to see numerous games over the years. His physique during the late 90's and into the 2000's had his girth at the waist too much on the "that's a bit more weight than you need to be carrying" look. So it is good to see he has been busting the gut so to speak.

Somebody posted a recent image of the 6'2" former lefty slugger on his bike at the top of a pass in Colorado. Good for Barry to pedal off the excess weight! We all know how a diet combined with cycling can trim the body down. I, myself, went from 212 down to 177 using the bike as my weight loss source.

Barry on his bike...

Barry+Bonds+Out+Bike+Ride+Santa+Monica+ymCgMukkGBnl

Barry+Bonds+Out+Bike+Ride+Santa+Monica+Fmq3RWWhsW7l

Getting trimmer and fitter...

EXCLUSIVE: Barry Bonds Out For A Morning Bike Ride

I can imagine those powerful legs of his that could turn so quickly on the ball to create tremendous bat speed come in handy at keeping the wattage high on the bike.

And the most recent photo (if it is legitimate) appears he is even trimmer than the photos above and getting the power to weight ratio dialed in for climbing mountains...

bondsbicycle

Speaking of training on the bike, this has been a build week for me with 8 hours in the bag so far with a scheduled training ride today and a recovery ride on Saturday. Thankfully, the heat simmered down 10 degrees yesterday to only a high of 95 and today should simmer down another 10 degrees to 85. That will be well received by me, for sure.





7/23/12

Hardware shopping in Mini-Soda....!

After a week of teaching at the Simpson College Orpheus Music Festival, it was time to race the bike on the weekend. I had a cold and fever earlier in the week, so nothing like a little heat to cook out the remains, right? This was to be my 14th race of the season. Wow! It looks like - if I stay healthy and injury free - I might end up racing more races this year than in any prior year. Hmmmm......

Saturday night was a guy's night out/girl's night out for about 5 couples we hang with, so the guys gathered at Joel Hade's house for a pool/beer/cigar/music/steak party at 4 and we managed to last until about 11. The gals went to a movie in Des Moines and then went to Tina's new loft for dinner. Back at the guy's party, I actually ate a 20 ounce ribeye steak (now that's a big ass steak!!!!), drank a couple of beers, had some wine, and avoided the cigars as they are not good for the voice or my lungs for racing. The swimming felt really good as the pool was at 89 degrees while it was 100+ in air temperature.

Speaking of heat, we have heat in spades this summer. It just hit 105 degrees here in Indianola and looks to be the same for the next couple of days. Traveling north on Sunday morning to Burnsville for the race at Buck Hill Ski Area, I noticed the weather radar had rain north of Des Moines all the way up to the twin cities. The forecast was for the mid 90's, so it would be a tad cooler than in Iowa. Sure enough, north of Des Moines it sprinkled off and on, then some rain the further north I drove until finally things stopped about 30 miles south of Burnsville. Once you hit the Mason City/Clear Lake exit in Iowa - things green up and even if there is a drought in Minnesota - the place looks green like a jungle compared to southern Iowa. It's so hot and dry down here that the leaves look like it is September/October turning their fall colors and falling off of the trees. Grass is beyond brown here (looks like California brown). Combine that with day after day of 98-102+ temperatures and the prognosis is not good.

I left at 6 am and got to Buck Hill around 10 am to check in, get suited up and warm up. There was cloud cover and a nice breeze, so temperatures were hanging in the low 80's which was nice indeed! I was only operating on 6 hours of sleep, so I knew that would have an effect on my riding, but c'est la vie. I lined up about 10 minutes before we were to take off at 11 and struck up a conversation with another Iowa gal who was from New Hampton (but lives in the Twin Cities). She gave me a run down of the race course since she races it in the Thursday night series throughout the summer. She said there was a lot of loose sand, loose dirt, gravel and rocks thanks to the lack of rain. In particular, she warned me about a steep descent that was very loose and sketchy. I thanked her for the course tips and moved up into my wave for our start.

BuckStart

I took off with the 45-49, 50-59, and 60+ group. Maybe the weather, maybe RAGBRAI, maybe the British Open, maybe family vacations, or who knows what - but attendance for the older racers was quite a bit down from what one usually sees for a Minnesota Mountain Bike Series race that is right in the Twin Cities area.

Regardless, off we went and I was in a mind game with my legs on the start (uphill start on gravel). I passed a few and got into line in the singletrack.

BuckHill

During the switchback, maze of S-turns entry into the singletrack, one bozo in front of me buzzed the rear tire of a rider in front of him and he hollered out in an angry tone "Come on guys, let's get going!!!". I always, always hate these bozos who yell that. If he wanted to get going - do the damn work off the line to get in a better position before we hit the singletrack. Turns out, he was yelling at 2 riders in the 60+ age class and they were doing their best for their own particular race.

The amazing series of S turns...

BuckWind

I waited patiently, and passed them a few meters later and thanked them. Then I went to chase the asshat down who had yelled at them. I passed him on the next climb and never saw him again. Ha!!

BuckHill2

I worked my way through 4 more riders on the first 1/2 of lap 1 and my legs were waking up and I was feeling good by cranking out good force on the pedals and staying in the big ring. I notched in behind a rider and we were doing well in all the twists and turns. We hit the section I had been warned about, but we came in way too hot and I didn't know it was the steep descent until my tires were already on loose rocks. No amount of braking would help and I tried my best to pick a line. However, everything on the trail simply slid to the right and I felt like I was riding a rock avalanche down a steep hill. I fought and fought and did everything I could to stay upright, but the inevitable happened and down I went. Luckily, things were loose and moving, but my right knee hit hard. Blood and a stinger to scream about! Three or four guys I had worked hard to pass, went by me and all asked if I was okay. I hopped right up, but the stinger was so bad - it was not easy getting back on the bike. I managed to get on and hop back on the trail right as another rider was coming down the steep chute. Off I went, but I was gun shy and it was difficult to get the knee to work.

I eeked out the final portion of lap one hoping my knee would eventually stop stinging so I could put more pressure on it. Who knows how much time this all cost me, but at least I was moving. Finally, I crossed the start/finish area and put some pressure on the knee. It held and the pain was tolerable. Entering the singletrack for the 2nd lap, the sun came out and it was suddenly 10 degrees or more hotter. Ouch! I noticed in the big ring I was having trouble shifting. Perhaps I had banged the rear derailleur in the crash. It kept hopping between the 1st and 2nd cog in the rear and was slow to shift. Between that and the knee, I caved in and dropped to the 27T ring and spun up the hills with a higher cadence (more like 110 rpm instead of my usual 75-80 rpm cadence). After a short pavement climb where I headed back into the singletrack in the shade again, I said to heck with it and started to tighten up the cable with the barrel adjuster. I managed to get things working well enough for the big ring again and off I went. I caught back up to everyone that had passed me and I worked my way around all of them again. I took care down the steep section and noticed a nice line had developed on that descent with most of the loose rocks pushed off to the right. Not so bad, I thought.

Lap 3 and Lap 4 I hit my stride. I was racing again, feeling good and the sun was dipping behind the clouds to keep temperatures in the 80's. I turned it on all the way to the end and crossed the line good enough to earn 2nd Place for my age class. I was 2:31 behind the winner (Steve Kapaun) in my age group. I know the fall cost me in lap one and part of lap 2 as I recovered from it, but was it a full 2 1/2 minutes? Who knows. I finished strong and brought home some hardware!!!

P1010002

P1010003

Being that I was going to stay for the awards ceremony to collect my hardware, I partook of a Fat Tire from the keg and had an excellent grilled burger. It's my highest place finish in a Minnesota Race ever. I've gotten a 3rd before, but never a 2nd. Of course, it didn't hurt that a few who usually beat me were not in attendance. That's okay, they'll be back next time I'm quite sure.

I congratulated Steve Kapaun on his win, and hopped in the car for the 4 hour drive back home. I pulled off at one of the rest stops along I-35 while the clouds were out to take a 25 minute nap. I pulled up under a tree in some shade, opened the windows and like a fool - left the fan on. It felt good, but when I awoke after 25 minutes and tried to start the car, it barely - and I do mean barely - turned over. Whew! The nap refreshed me and I drove home error free and made it in the house at 6 pm. 8 Hours of driving, an XC race, a fine dinner all made for a good set up to watch the conclusion on Food Network of a competition we have been watching for weeks. I slept like a baby and feel much better today. The knee is not so bad. In fact, I got 2 hours of Zone 2 riding in today and the knee didn't even flinch in spite of how ugly it looks. A contusion on the front and a big old swollen lump on the right of the knee cap (about the size of an egg).



7/14/12

Iowa Games...

Tis the season for the Iowa Games. My daughter is playing soccer (had one match yesterday and two today) this weekend in the Iowa Games. Her team from Indianola has advanced to the next round tomorrow.

I decided to race at the Iowa Games Mountain Bike Race today which was held at Peterson Pits (or rather, Peterson Park) just north of Ames. Bike Iowa team members Paul Varnum and his wife Christy, Kyle Sedore and Taylor Webb all got the course set up and handled the timing, awards, etc... . Hats off to them for the effort and fun event!!!!

The Iowa Games race was canceled last year due to construction of a bridge making access to the park difficult. I've raced it in years past, so it was good to see the event on the schedule again for this year. I headed up this morning at 9:30 and arrived at 10:30 which only left me 25 minutes to register, get ready and warmed up. It was warm - temperature wise - with temps in the 90's, but certainly not as bad humidity wise as it was at Beverly Park 2 weeks ago in Cedar Rapids. The course was about 95% in the shade which also kept us cool.

From my memory of Peterson Pits, it was fast and pretty much flat. So I grabbed the Dos Niner with the Racing Ralphs on it to handle the flats, speed and the sand which I had read from posts on Facebook was in abundance.

Here's the bike post race in need of a wash and lube:

P1010002

Attendance was enthusiastic, but about 50 in total for the CAT 1/2/3. I think we all need to spread the word for next year and see if we can get the attendance bumped up to a solid 100 or so as the venue is fun, challenging in its own unique way and very scenic. At the starting line, I noticed former CAT 1 racer Sean Meyers was in my group which upped the challenge as Sean is a good rider. At the shout of "Go!" by Paul Varnum, I took off and made sure I was in the lead 3 or 4 going into the singletrack. Sean was leading, and a big guy with huge legs from Nebraska (Andre Rethman) was in 2nd. It didn't take long in lap one where we caught up to racers from the previous waves as there wasn't much time lag between groups at the starting line waves. Kim and Sue West were on a tandem and had gone done in the first section of sand. The sand required one to power through it and just let the wheels go where they wanted to go. But it was catching people as riders were falling or dabbing in the dark through it. I managed to stay upright on all 3 laps, so am thankful. Maybe the sand riding in California last week prepared me....

Sean was gapped off the front of the 2nd place rider - Andre - and myself, and I maintained about a 50 - 70 yard gap behind the 2nd place rider. Andre used his powerful legs through the sand pits, and I tried with my chicken legs to keep as much force on the pedals that I could muster. We held our position through all of lap 2 and most of lap 3. At each open section, I could view where I was in comparison to Andre in front of me. My goal was to keep him in striking distance and use lap 3 to let it all out and catch him for a finish sprint. That was the plan that I developed mid-race. However, I came out of one singletrack section that I had entered with Andre in sight and he was no longer in sight. He had turned on the after burners and was pulling away. Rats! What was a 10 - 12 second difference had now grown to something I could not make up on the final section of lap 3. I gave it all I had, but was 20-30 seconds short at the line and ended up with the Bronze Medal for the 2012 Iowa Games.

I was happy I didn't melt in the heat thanks to the supplements, hydration, carbo loading and voodoo.

P1010004

Landon Beachy who schooled me at Beverly Park came across the line about 3 minutes behind me, so at least I upped my pace from 2 weeks ago in the heat. The Dos Niner was fine for the race and the track was fun, challenging and worthwhile. After the race, I hopped in the truck with Paul Varnum and headed out to pick up all the orange cones, take down marking tape and Iowa Games signs. Fun was had by all and any day on a mountain bike for a race is a day to smile and reflect upon.

Tara and I are off to see Puccini's La Rondine tonight at Des Moines Metro Opera. Tomorrow, we go back up to Ames for Alexa's 12:30 soccer match. The Orpheus Music Festival for high school students starts for me Sunday night at 6:30. I will teach 9 students per day next week 30 minute voice lessons.

7/9/12

California fun and racing...

We are out in sunny California on a 10 day vacation visiting family and friends. Tara suggested if I was going to go along on the trip, I bring along a bike and maybe hunt for a race to do while I was here. Bringing a bike was out of the question in terms of economics as American Airlines wanted $150 each way to carry my bike in the cargo hold. I found a mountain bike race in Northern California on Saturday, July 7th to participate in for a little fun. And I called the bike shops in Santa Cruz, CA and was able to reserve a size XL Santa Cruz Tallboy carbon race bike for a 24 hour rental. Perfect - that was all set before leaving Iowa.

We were headed down to Santa Cruz this past weekend to visit our niece, Rachel, who attends the University there and is working on the Boardwalk for the summer. That's how I ended up finding the race nearby at Ft. Ord. It fit the 'schedule' of our planned events while out here vacationing. Tara lined up a condo for us to stay in via an old boss of hers when she worked for Diamond Lotus - and we lined up a dinner with two of Tara's cousins on Saturday night while we were at it. Perfect planning. Santa Cruz is home of surfing, the Boardwalk Amusement Park, staying young, etc... . Life for many in this city includes skate boarding, mountain biking, kayaking in the ocean, swimming, drinking fine coffee and hiking.

The race I found was part of the mountain bike series hosted by Central Coast Cyclo-Cross
. Central Coast Cyclo-Cross hosts a downhill series, a cyclo-cross series, a mountain bike XC race series, and a road race series. Their XC mountain bike series featured one that fit our schedule. That was XC Race #7 of the 8 race series held at Ft. Ord on July 7th.

I pretty much took the week off of riding after the heat zapped me last Sunday and I was due for a rest week. Normally, it would be an active recovery rest week, but I didn't have a bike until Friday - so I was off the bike for 4 straight days. We drove down to Santa Cruz early Friday morning, found our condo and unpacked. Then we met Rachel for lunch on the wharf. After some wonderful seafood, we left the girls to hit the amusement park while I went to get the bike. Tara and I headed out to Wilder Ranch State Park just on the west end of town to hike and bike (she hiked, I biked). This is an amazing playground of multi-use trails that blew me away for the Friday afternoon ride as I got used to the Tallboy demo bike and primed my legs a bit after 4 days off the bike. If you ever get a chance to hit Wilder Park - do it! What an amazing trail system and temperatures are cool enough (60's - 70's) to not have to worry about overheating.

A quick note about my time on the Tallboy: It reminds me a lot of my JET 9 and climbs equally well.

Saturday morning we headed down the coastal highway (Highway 1 that is) to the Ft. Ord exit for the race. All the migrant workers were in the fruit and vegetable fields tending to the crops. We stopped at one of the stands and got some fresh strawberries, raspberries and some veggies. I got to the race site about an hour before the gun, registered, got suited up and headed out for a warm-up.

Our races in the Midwest target finishing times of 2 hours for CAT 1, 90 minutes for Comp, 60-70 minutes for CAT 2, and 30-45 for CAT 3. The CAT 2 race at Ft. Ord had us slated to do about 25 miles!!! Wow, that put the duration equal to a CAT 1 level race in the Midwest. There were 19 of us that lined up in my wave of 45+. I looked around and ascertained that these were some serious XC racers. Unlike the Psycowpath, Minnesota and Wisconsin series where I can compete in a smaller spanning age category such as the 50+ group, I was in the 45-54 age group which meant - it was time for me to get another good dusting! ;-]


Listening to the race director give us pre-race directions...

2012-07-07 11.10.17

All smiles during the countdown to go...

2012-07-07 11.09.49

The opening climb was up a paved road and the start was - fast!! I was hanging with the top 10 going up the climb and felt I could go a bit faster, but figured "a wait and see what the pace settles into attitude" would be prudent. We hit the dirt and the pace actually picked up! I settled into a position and was going to use lap one to learn the trail and get used to steering the Crossmarks through the sandy sections.

I got a little too comfortable sitting in behind another rider during lap one and at the start of lap two. I finally passed him on a climb and bumped up my tempo a bit to see if I could pick off any riders ahead. I pretty much caught up with some slower riders from previous CAT 2 waves and passed a few here and there.

Thumbs up after lap 2...

2012-07-07 11.23.08

My stamina was good through the first 4 laps, and on lap 5 I was in suffer mode to keep the pace on the climbs. Hint - hint to BB: drop 10-12 pounds sooner, rather than later.....for the 2nd half of the season. Well, we'll see about that...

On the final steep climb of lap 5 which I had been attacking in the middle 32T chainring on the previous 4 laps, I decided "what the heck", it was time to ease my suffering a bit and use the granny ring to spin up the final climb. It was a pretty bumpy climb which the bike was fighting with the ProPedal setting on. Since I was near last place as it was, I figured it wouldn't factor into the equation if I slowed a bit on the climb. My bad, within 10 seconds 5 guys came flying around me in a group headed to the finish line in 'sprint mode' and I could not catch them in the final descent and flat section to the finish line. I had no more gas to give for a sprint. You snooze, you lose...

I had a lot of fun doing this race. It is always good to see how other series conduct their races and what types of trails and terrain are out there. At least I know what it feels like to do an XC race of this 2 hour length. Actually, it felt pretty good to race that kind of distance and it sure gave me an idea of what is needed to keep the screws tightened for 2 hours if I ever decide to do races that long on a regular basis. I crossed the line in 13th place for the old men, packed up my bike and took it back to the bike shop in Santa Cruz. Thanks to Another Bike Shop on Mission Blvd. for the Tallboy demo and taking care of me. The bike was a lot of fun on both days - at Wilder Ranch State Park and Ft. Ord.

We rounded out the day with a nice dinner with family on the beach at a new restaurant. Sunday we packed up and headed back to the Bay Area for the remainder of our visit.

7/1/12

Melted...

Beverly Park in Cedar Rapids was host for the new IMBCS event this year called the Beverly Fat Tire Frenzy. Considering it was a 1st time event, I have to tip my hat to the entire crew that organized and ran this race. Well done!!!

Ma Nature had plans for all of us that signaled summer is here to stay. 77% humidity, temperatures in the high 80s and into the 90's (high of 97) which gave us a heat index reading of 98 degrees at the start of the race today and climbing as the race went into the latter laps. Oy! Talk about a heck of a way to ring in the month of July!!! And need I say this is the hottest week in Iowa in 23 years...

The drive over was fine and I arrived in time to warm-up, chit chat and quickly realized the heat was indeed going to be a factor for me. I'm not really adapted to it yet (takes about 10-14 days of riding in it to do that). And even when adapted, this kind of heat is performance altering for racing. I also didn't have any protein to put in my drink bottle along with my carbs which was my bad. Protein tends to help me a bit in the heat, but I forgot it at home.

CAT 2 35+ and 45+ group lined up for our wave start and looked to be about 15-18 riders for the masters. At the start, nobody really seemed too anxious to jump off the line, so I moved up into 4th position going into the singletrack. The lead rider took right off and opened up a gap. The 2nd rider eventually fell and the guy that was ahead of me in 3rd and I took off to see if we could close the gap on the guy in 1st. Everyone followed us and stayed on my wheel, so I could see it was going to be a battle.

My legs felt pretty good during lap one considering I did 2 races last weekend and trained hard this week as I entered a build phase to prepare for some events coming up down the road that I want to do well in as target races. I wasn't sure who would show up at this race, or what I was going to be able to give in it, but suffice it to say I just wanted to finish it in the heat. In the middle of lap 1, we hit an open field section where we were out of the shade and all I can say is the sun and heat zapped me, but I kept pushing. After twisting through some really fun singletrack, we had a nice twisty descent through some bermed singletrack before a gravel doubletrack climb back up the hill (the longest climb on the course). As soon as we hit that climb, the 2 guys behind me hammered past me and took off into the sunset. I just tried to survive the climb.

The rest of lap one felt pretty good to me, but as I started lap 2 I started to feel my legs and body start to reject the effort at this heat and humidity level. I had done all of lap one using only my big ring up front, but now I found myself struggling in lap two with the big ring. Not because the climbs were steep or too tough, but because the heat was reducing my effort to sub-par. This eventually led to me gearing down to the smaller ring on my 2 x 9 to spin up climbs. I got passed by another pair on the sunny, open field climb as I wasn't willing to stomp the pedals up that climb. Lap 2 had me riding quite a bit - rather than pushing and racing. That brought back memories of other high heat index races over the years when my body shut down. The heat was worrying me. I didn't any feel cramps in my legs, but they were balking at the kind of effort needed to keep them going at a solid race pace. I basically shut down and just tried to survive the lap. I kept spinning my way up climbs instead of using power to keep my flow. I was staying seated more often and not getting out of the saddle to push over short power climbs. There were riders pulled off to the side every now and then that were resting, drinking fluids, bent over their bikes, nursing cramps and it made me realize the heat was having an effect on many of us. I passed a few riders from early start waves throughout lap 1 and 2.

Lap 3 began as a total survival lap for me to just finish. Yet, 1/2 way into it I started to feel a bit better and could maintain the big ring again. I actually had some moments and sections that I was racing again and it felt fine. But I was melted at this point and just wanted it over.

I crossed the line and was happy to be done. I went for a 15 minute cool down ride and then started drinking cold fluids as I packed up. I was a little dumbfounded to see the results as I must have lost count of who and how many passed me. Was I really that slow today? The heat must have melted my reasoning along with everything else. I had melted all the way down into 8th place. Say it isn't so? I thought I had salvaged a better slot than that, but what the heck - it just wasn't my day. I went into the race not as fresh as one wants to be to place well, and the heat zapped me after lap one. I should be content with finishing and not falling or getting injured - or having an adverse reaction to the heat. It was still fun - and that's the point. Riding a new trail with some unique challenges is always fun.

Kudos to John Peters and the Linn Area Mountain Bike Association for an excellent race. The trail is really fun and challenging. Time to cool off and get packed for our trip to California. Next up - racing wise - is a mountain bike race in California at Ft. Ord on Saturday. Thank goodness, temperatures will be in the low to mid 70's for that event. Now that's more like it....!