Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Greenbrier Challenge

Another weekend of mountain bike racing. This was my first Cross Country MTB race, the Greenbrier Challenge up in Greenbrier MD. MTB racing has less stringent licensing rules than road racing, so I had the choice between racing Beginner (Cat 3) or Sport (Cat 2). I opted for the Cat 2 race, since it was 3 laps instead of 2...since this was a 1:30 hour drive to the start, I thought it most efficient to race longer than I drove to get there.

Got up at the crack of dawn to ride up with Jim for a pre-ride of the course. It rained all night, so Sonya thought it a bit crazy that we were getting up so early to go ride in the cold rain. I was a bit nervous, convinced that I was in over my head...should've raced beginner. Rode the course once, went and rocky, but in pretty good condition considering all the rain. I guess when the course is mainly rocks, it drains well. Realized I was weak on some of the technical areas...convinced myself I was going to crash in the rocks...done with preride by 8:45, had until 11:00 to race.

It was cold, rainy.

I was hungry, and needed more coffee. Luckily the camp concession was open.

They had coffee, donuts, and hot bologna. Hot bologna sounded tempting, as it's something I haven't tried in about 25 years, but I stayed away knowing it's not good pre-race grub.

Rode around to keep the blood flowing and stay warm. Layered up. Sun poked out for a minute, shed layers...cloudy again, more layers. Must've changed 3 or 4 times before the race.

Line up for the race. Haul ass with the leaders going up the first hill. Get passed by a bunch of dudes going down. Lose my line on the downhill. Luckily the ground was soft at this point, and the trail looped back...ended up with about 20 yards of off-trail riding. Got back going... Settled in with a group of 4 or 5 riders that I'd pass on the climb or flat sections, and they'd pass me going down. Did this for the 1st and 2nd lap. 2nd lap, I hit a tree in a rock garden...luckily I was only riding 1mph.

At the start of the 3rd and final lap, I decided that I had to finish ahead of the group I was in. Hammered up the non-technical hill at the start, creating a big gap. Recovered on the downhill, hammered the flats and climbs. Didn't see those guys again.

Finished 12th of 20 something riders in the age group. Middle of the pack once again. Noted that had I raced beginner, lap times were good enough for 2nd. Once I learn how to ride downhill, the times should get better.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baker's Dozen MTB Race

This past weekend was the Baker's Dozen 13 hr MTB race. I'd heard this was a popular race, so when NCVC was looking to put together teams, I jumped on a 3 man team. This was to be my first MTB race since 24 Hours of Hell in Paradise, so I was glad that I got on a team that was just looking to get in some good riding.

We decided to camp, which later turned out to be a bad idea. The nice 80 degree temps on Friday didn't last. Learned a few lessons:

1) Don't buy cheap canopies. This canopy I'm staring at took about an hour to get setup...zippers were corroded from its last use on the beach. 30mph winds quickly snapped it.
2) When we make our summit attempt on Everest, we will not be packing a Coleman tent. 30mph winds caused it to cave in, accompanying showers infiltrated the tent that was no longer protected from the rainfly.
3) Don't let kids play in the tent before bedtime...they may think it's fun to unroll the sleeping bags, but when #2 happens, it's going to be a cold wet night.
4) A lesson I've learned before...Jim Kosek is a funny mofo, but Accuweather sucks. Don't trust them.

After a couple hours of sleep Friday night due to the fierce wind nearly blowing the tent over, we woke up to sunny, yet cooler skies. Carter and Jack rode the mini race. Here are our pre-race war faces.

All shapes and sizes were in the mini-races. Carter and Jack had to navigate through a lot of training wheels and tricycles.

Some folks camped in style, the boys found a couch for some post race relaxation.

The cows were staring us down for riding in their fields.

Despite not being in it to win it, my team did quite well. Halfway through the race, we were 6th of 36 teams...ended up finishing 9th. The course was flat, fast and fun. Starting to get comfortable on the Epic...probably a little too comfortable, as I got a little overconfident bunny hopping a log. Ended up doing a nice endo, breaking in the new bike with it's first crash. Looking forward to more MTB racing this year.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

F'n Nitwit

I planned on racing the Tyson's Corner Circuit Race on Sunday. Since I was planning on volunteering for a couple hours as a road guard, thought I'd race as well.

Bailed out on Thursday for a couple of reasons:

1) Lack of training nearly guaranteed a less than mediocre finish
2) Lack of desire to ride in a Cat 4 race and listen to fellow Cat 4s yell "hold your line" at other Cat 4s that have comparable bike handling skills.
3) Since I also entered mountain bike races for the next couple of weekends, I'd rather spend my weekend ride time on the trails getting ready for 2 weekends of mountain biking.

and the main reason,

4) Sonya signed us up to go see David Sedaris in Baltimore Saturday night, so I knew I wouldn't get much sleep the night before.

Ok, I could've made it to the race, but in the time since I signed up for the race, I've decided that Crits and Circuit Races aren't that appealing right now. It probably goes back to a combination of reasons #1 and #2. I really have no desire to get dropped or be involved in a big crash.

So, I still did my volunteer time as a road guard during the Women's Cat 1/2/3 and the Men's Pro/1/2/3 races. The race was in a large office park with four lane roads. 2 lanes were blocked off for the race, while riders warmed up on the outer lanes. I sat road guard next to the outer lanes, protecting the racer from those over achieving, I've gotta work on Sunday, workaholics at the USA Today HQ. Since it's a crappy paper, it has very few workaholics, and the lot was empty Sunday....making my job easy.

It was interesting to sit and listen to the teams warmup and discuss 'tactics' as they passed. These guys think up some elaborate crap, that really means nothing, as the race didn't play out that way. Also got to hear the women recap their race as they cooled down...basically a lot of "i could've, should've and would'ves."

I decided to sit at the edge of the sidewalk to get a little bit of shade. The sidewalk was very wide, and not a lot of people passing on it. At one point, I look over to see a large dude on a hybrid hauling ass down the sidewalk. He yells something. I'm leaving plenty of room on the sidewalk, but he buzzes me as he passes. I tell him he's cutting it a little too close. He yells back in his Australian accent "......Fucking Nitwit". Since I've never been called a nitwit, I thought it was funny, so I asked him "What?"...he says ".....blah, blah...Fucking Nitwit!" again. I can hardly contain myself and ask him to say again and he calls me a nitwit again. By that point, he was out of yelling range, so I didn't get a chance to have him call me a "silly ninny" or any other harmless insult.

I did want to tell the guy that he did have plenty of sidewalk if he insisted on riding on sidewalk...or that he would be in compliance with local laws if he rode on the road instead.

In 3 years of riding and running in Hawaii, I never had an incident where a fellow cyclist or runner yelled at me. In 8 months here, I've had 3 incidents. In Hawaii, Mr. Nitwit would've probably given me a Shaka. The guy at the National Marathon would've said "Excuse Me Brah"...the Fred would've said "sorry Brah"...or something.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Douthat Trip

Last week we took a trip to Douthat State Park near Clifton Forge, VA. This place has been described as a "Mountain Bike Disneyland"...it's remote, no cell service, no phones, no TVs in the rustic cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

We celebrated Jack's birthday. He's the world's last Power Rangers fan, so he got his wish...everyone dressed up as Power Rangers. Here they are out on patrol on part of Douthat's 40-mile trail network.

I managed to get in 3 fantastic Mountain Bike Rides...this is some of the best riding I've ever done. Rides were tough though, it was either up or down. The largest climb was about 1700' of elevation gain over 4.5 miles, all over rocky single track. The descents were bumpy but fun. I nearly had the trails to myself. In 9 hours of riding, I only saw riders twice, in groups of 2. I caught up with 2 guys climbing Middle Mountain (the big 1700' climb), and noticed one was riding a "fixie". They invited me to ride along. I followed them up...amazingly the fixie dude was able to climb most of the way, only walking a few of the tighter switchbacks. I didn't stick around to watch the guy try to descend on that deathtrap...they were taking breaks on the way up, so after chatting for awhile I pushed on. It would've been interesting to see how the guy descended at high speed without coasting, but I also didn't want to be around if he crashed...this was after all his first fixie mountain ride.

The water was up on Stony Run. Several creek crossings. It was about 39 degrees when I started my first ride...stepping through this creek wasn't much fun that time, but got progressively more pleasant when temperatures crawled into the 80s.

Glad to get some "epic" rides in with the Epic.

Douthat Trip Part 2

Views from top of Middle Mountain...did this climb 3 times.

Took Jack and Carter on a ride over the flatter trails.

The last night Carter and Jack went on an Easter candy bender, which disrupted the porch front view of the beautiful sunset over the mountains.
Jack was especially proud of the "Hulk Finger" he developed after his first experience with "Fun Dip"