Sunday, April 26, 2009

Root 66 Race Series: Farmintong Classic

Race report: MTBERS posting some results at the Farmington Classic Root 66 Race Series!!!!!

Jeff had stated before race day, that warm up w/ this warm up (!) would be key in the race. Boy was he right!Jeff and I got to the venue about 1 hour before race start and decided to do a lap of the course to warm up. It was fast fire roads, w/ some twisty singletrack thrown in to keep it an honest mtb race. This year it had more single track than any previous years. Nothing more technical than an occasional log crossing (though we did see a guy land on his face from endoing on two small logs that were placed close together). The most difficult aspect would be to lay off the brakes and keep your speed and momentum in the twisty singletrack or sandy fire road turns so that in the heat you would not have to constantly re-launch. Just lean the bike and zip in between those trees, and rail those turns. It was all about flow. And if you could find it, boy did this course just flow. Jeff’s comment after the race summed it up best: “that was (freaking) awesome” (or something like that!).I normally never do very well w/ sprint start and tend to fall off the back and then have to fight the rest of the race to catch up and pick off riders. W/ the warm, I found myself in the lead group right at the start. The start was pretty sandy and needed some negotiation, so I did not get a chance to count all the riders in front of me but I thought I was in 7th place. Soon two groups of 3 riders formed, me hanging on to the last wheel of the second group, while the first was slowly pulling away. W/in a mile, I started to realize that I was not as winded or tired as I though I ought to be. Historically hanging w/ the top ten at a race should have red lined me right away, but I was not. I was actually feeling pretty good. As this course is fast enough to at times use drafting, I came from the behind the wheel of the last guy and sprinted past the second group and grabbed the wheel of the first group. Again, since this was very early in the race, that should have killed me, but I recovered quickly and found myself wanting more. Towards the end of the first lap, I passed the lead guy w/ good “authority” and no one was able to grab my wheel. By the time I went through the start, I could not see them behind me. I was in complete disbelief: this was the end of the first lap, and according to my (mis)calculations, I was actually leading. I tried to keep the pace high during the second lap making sure I was hydrating enough to not overheat, and to keep off the brakes and the flow going. There was no one ahead of me (other than significantly slower riders who were obviously in another category) and no one behind me. In my head, I kept on replaying the start to see if I could figure out if I had missed anyone. Part of me was really exited that I was “dominating” this race, while the smarter part was saying that a group might have escaped at the start w/ out me seeing it. It was not until ½ way through the last lap that someone on the side line encouragingly yelled out to me I was going to podium. I yelled back to see if I was in first, and she answered there were a couple of guys ahead of me. Soon after, I passed another category rider and he told me the next guy in my cat was less than a minute ahead. I gave it all I had and 2/3 of the way through the lap spotted him, when a rider in a group ahead suddenly took off after turning around and seeing my number. I knew he knew... Slowly I gained on him but I was just starting to completely overheat and hit the wall. I actually was able to grab his wheel right before the finish. Sadly, to cross the line the course did a small but steep climb where I just blew up. He beat me by 5 seconds. What sucks is that at the beginning of the last lap, when I came through the feed station, I accidentally dropped my new water bottle when I went to grab it. I had to hit the brakes, turn around, grab it, and get going again. This cost me at least 15 seconds….I ended finishing 3rd, which in the end I was quite happy w/. Jeff had a fantastic race as well and place in second place being only 30 seconds behind. At this time, both Jeff and I are the current race leaders for our age group in cat 2 (sport).
Posted by Refunds Now Cycling Team

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bunny Hopbrook Dam Race, Root 66 MTB Series, race 1

This race should be called: Mud in your eye, …and nose, and mouth, and ears, and places you did not even think mud could a find a way in! This race is known by those who have done it in the past, as a cold, wet, mud fest. Sadly this year, they got the weather forecast right. As I drove down to pick up Jeff, it started to rain, and then it just poured the whole 2 ½ hour drive there. As we pulled into the venue, we could see the cat 1 racers on the course and they were covered in mud from head to toe. Getting ready just sucked! It was cold and wet and so raw. Pre race warm up was not great either and when we lined up at the start, every one was jumping around trying to stay warm. Surprisingly, the start field was really big for this kind of weather. In my age group, 33 people lined up, and the count for the day was well over 300 total racers…who says mtb racing is dead? The course started on a grassy area, where racers lined up almost 10 wide, but narrowed to an opening of 2 ½ racers wide w/in 20 feet. Of course the grass was soaked and that small opening was of course muddy and slippery. Everyone went for the hole shot and a nice pile up ensued. I had stayed back a little bit and made it through unharmed. The next cluster f**** occurred w/ in the next 200 yards when the course once again narrowed to a steep short climb into the woods and into a narrow single track. One racer ahead did not make it up the muddy slope and when he came to full stop right at the top and dismounted, the domino effect happened: everyone off the bike and trying to run up the slope to pass those who are not fully dismounted yet, banging elbows and bikes. Back on the single track I remounted my bike and tried in vain to pedal the slight slope. The mud was like peanut butter and I could feel my tire start to slip side ways. I dismounted again and ran this section (during which I immediately was reminded why it would be a good idea to include some running in my training!), which actually allowed me to pass several riders who themselves were trying hard to find some traction but were just spinning out. I remounted as the trails leveled. Even on level ground, traction was hard to come by and the first little downhill section was pretty treacherous. I was trying to only use my rear brake, which was making my rear tire skid all over the trail, but this worked well enough to keep front most of the time going in the direction I wanted it to.After this single tract section, the course went back to a short section of road , where everyone would gain enough speed to have their front tire spin off all the mud it had collected (on the second lap, I made sure I kept my mouth closed!) The road dumped you into a wet long grass power robbing field, and back into single track. The rest of course, though it included a couple of steep climbs that were un-rideable and, one also almost un-walkable, was challenging but was, as long as you did not try to either push too heavy of gear, or picked the right line, manageable and fun. Still very muddy but w/ traction. The key was to just pick the right lines…As mentioned, I started slow and ended up after the slick section, about 2/3 back. I settled into my pace and became more confident w/ the course about 2/3 in. I then started to pick riders off. I could always see the next racer ahead, and would catch up to them, ride their wheel to push them (and recover just a tad), and once I felt they were starting to slowdown, I would pass them and try to catch the next rider. I did this for the remainder of the race. I wiped out once trying to cut a corner after a fast downhill section to pass a rider I having trouble passing. My rear tired slipped, and suddenly found myself doing a 180 and riding back wards. A little like MTB ballet… In the end I managed to claw my way back to 8th place. Jeff did great and finished in 3rd for his age group. One of my struggles w/ racing is that it takes me so long warm up. I think my placement would greatly improve if I could start fast and stay fast. When I try to start fast, I get winded way too quickly and blow up. Any recommendations on how to improve this would be most welcome. I already try to do fast start intervals but this does not seem to be enough….
Ohhh....and this is what we looked like before the race:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Well, I ain't no King...

Race Report: King of Burlingame - 4/5/09

This was a mountain bike time trial w/ each rider starting at a 30 second interval.Good turnout from the team (for a mountain bike race that is) w/ Jeff, Geoff, Nate, Kirk (sp) and myself. 5 refunds riders at an mtb race! Maybe everyone will convert to mtb in the next couple of years (yeah right!).I was wondering how I would fare this year. Last year I was still recovering from my knee injury and never really had any serious training time. This year, though my knee was (and is) still acting up here and there, and has prevented me from putting in hard efforts, I have been able to spend time on the trainer several times a week.Well I am definitely no King (though I have princess like qualities!)Jeff and I pre rode the course yesterday and we had stopped in several sections to try to pick the best lines through some technical sections. Nothing was too bad and everything was ride-able (at least for jeff). Some lines just lend themselves better to keep your momentum. Perhaps there were three tricky sections total. The first was a short uphill then a flat w/ some large sized rocks, this came soon after the start; the second, a large down wet tree over a stream at an awkward angle; and the last was a mud hole with a couple of large rocks after a bridge. Throughout the whole pre-ride I think I dismounted for only those sections w/ everything else being very ride-able.I felt pretty good this morning and was looking forward the season opener. The first 1/3 of the race quickly dampened my enthusiasm. Right from the start I kept on hesitating and taking the wrong lines. I kept on telling myself I should be looking down the trail and not right in front of my tire, but my gaze just kept on coming back to only what was right in front of my tire, resulting in much dabbling and having to walk certain sections which I knew I should have been able to flow through. This was really slowing me down, and starting to piss me off. I did quickly catch up to the guy in front of me which energized me, but when I passed him, I realized it was not because I was fast but rather because he was just really slow. A little bit of a letdown but I was still glad that I at least had passed one guy as I would not end up being dead last.The rest of course was easier and had many more flowing single track sections, and there I found my rhythm. Midway, there was a fire road climb and I saw the next guy in front of cresting the top. Soon after re-entering the single track sections and finding a good flow on the downhill and over the rock ledges, I caught him and saw another racer ahead. That one was hurting, and I had to dismount and run off the trail past him as he was short on air and not quite aware of what he was doing or that I wanted to pass. The rest was just a hammer fest w/ a few mud pits thrown in at the end to slow you down and make you work just a little harder.Though the race was a short 7.xx miles, it was pretty painful from being pretty close to max heart right from the start and having to stay there throughout the race. No time to allow for any recovery and where. I thought I would finish mid pack and ended up finishing third, with a time of 34 min and ?? seconds. This might actually be mid pack since I have no idea how many racers were in our group, and there might just have been 6 or7. It looks like the guy (Steven) who came in second, might have beaten me by less than ½ second. That makes me wish I had not coasted over the finish line! I'll see when the official results are up. Anyways, I did win a nice new pair of Spech gloves.Also of note is that Jeff ended up winning not only his age group but the whole sports category w/ a fantastic time of 31 minutes!