March 28, 2009

Anyone Know Who It Is

Anyone know who the dude was wearing 53x11 Alter Ego Team kit in a group along Fort Myers Beach at 08.30 on Saturday March 28th ?
Maybe 15- 20 riders who seemed to meet at the corner of Main Street, only one wearing 53x11. Looked like a nice competitive group to hook up with!

March 23, 2009

Cold, cold, COLD

For the second week in a row our race series was met with temperatures hovering right around 30. Crisp to say the least.

Last weeks race was pretty uneventful, full of doomed attacks that never made it more then 10 seconds off the front. The race came down to a dicey field sprint full of elbow knocking and shoving. I dropped to the rear of the group before the sprint and somehow found all the right wheels to place me second. Both scared and inspired, I made a plan for this Saturday's race which was to make a break that would work and scamper away from the field. Well, that is what happened... sort of! This week, a attack fired coming right out of neutral racing. I figured anyone silly enough to fire an attack right from the line on a 52 miler was either brave, insane or a combination of both! Apparently, 7 other riders thought this was a great idea and jumped to join. I was perfectly content to let them go, knowing they'd be back soon. Interestingly, the main group felt this was a safe break to let away too.... I watched as the gap steadily grew. 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 SECONDS! Oh crap, this is the real deal! So, that put me into bridge mode. I jumped and expected company (great cause I'm going to need help to bridge this gap...), nothing.... No takers... Ok, this is gonna hurt! Well, I made it about half was with a hard 2 minute effort and decided to take a brief hiatus. Stuck in no man's land... A peloton 20 seconds behind and a break 10 seconds ahead... Back on. Well after another hard effort I completed the bridge and was allowed to sit on the back of the break to recover.

That's when things got really spicey. Our break group was officially ripping open a gap over the main group. 9 guys working together, we would not be seen again. One of the local team guys decided he was going to have a go off the front. He took a teammate and I, now feeling recovered, decided to go to! So here we are. 3 strong, a break of a break opening a 10 to 15 second gap... and then it happened.... We rounded a corner and are flagged down by the race official and are going back to a neutral lap. Unfortunately, we were made to rejoin the main peloton.

Ok, here we go again. Back to hot racing myself and 6 others quickly attack and take up racing in proper. To make a long story short, we knew with 20 miles left we were gone for the race. Again, the lack of infighting as well as some hard efforts from everyone in the group we ripped open another large gap. Interestingly, once we opened up a minute on the peloton we knew we where safe and the break cruised easily at 20 mph or so. We all knew it was going to be a drag race in the final 200 so we rested. Cruise, cruise, cruise!

200 to go and I'm last wheel cruising at 30 in a break 7 strong... I jumped pretty hard albeit to late. I ended up 3rd... Next week...

March 22, 2009

Ride the Ridge MTB - Blue Ridge School, VA

After last week's debacle at the O'Hill Muddown, I was hoping for warmer temps, drier conditions, and a good race. Can you believe all three requests were answered . . . . up to a point. Oh yes, the weather was warmer, mid-60's by mid-race. Very nice!! The course was mostly dry with just a few wet/muddy spots. Not much more you could ask for there! Good race? Well . . . . it started out good!

Start time was 11:00 a.m. for the Pro/Expert cat. and they went right on time. We folk in the Sport category went at 11:02 with the beginners following us. The course was all you could exxpect it to be. The race director, Nolan Lavoie, sent out a course profile on Friday and if I wasn't mistaken I thought it could have been a "sawtooth" waveform. Yes, it was up or down the whole eight mile without a meter of flat. Ok, that's an exagerration, but not much. There were also a good number of rock gardens and other obstacles that would prove rather difficult given the terrain. For the beginner's sake, they cut about a mile out of the first lap which was good for them, but not for me as I will explain later. There was also one really muddy spot next to a pond that was about ten feet long. Someone had the sense of humor to throw a railroad tie down along one edge of this "bog". I considered attempting to ride across it but then decided I better not even try so I used it to walk across the mud. The first lap was quite frustrating at first because they sent all the sport category riders out at once, and there were twenty-six pre-registered, so it was quie crowded. Given all the steep climbs and obstacles you had to stop and walk quite a bit because you were always coming up on someone walking. It got less frustrating and more challenging after everyone spread out a bit. Toward the end of the first lap I came up on a guy on a rocky descent who was having a tougher time than me, and I'm terrible on the downhills. He (Kevin) said, "go ahead, I think you are better at the downhills than me" to which I replied, "that doesn't say much about your descending skills then." We both chuckled and rode on. At the very end there was a fire road climb followed by a fire road descent to a road descent then a short dirt climb back up to the football field and the start/finish. Kevin passed me on the road and then quickly lost it on the dirt climb and started walking. I passed him back then and crossed the start/finish somewhere in the middle of the field of sport vet men 35+.

So after the first lap I would say that Iwas having a pretty good ride. On the second lap, things went much smoother in the beginning because there were a lot fewer riders to get stuck behind. I rode almost all of the places I had to walk on the first lap and was opening a pretty good gap to the folks I had passed just after the lap started. I duly noted the spot where we turned off on the first lap and headed up the 300 foot climb over a half mile plus the corresponding descent. I was going up a particularly nasty spot where the trail was narrow rocky and steep. There was a ~120 degree turn to the right between a big tree on the right and a couple of little trees on the left. Oh, and it was a steep little four foot rise on loose soil to get between the trees. I swung up and around to left side of the trail because I wasn't sure how close I should get to the big tree when either my bar hit one of the little trees, I lost traction or something else but I started to fall to my right toward the big tree down the slope. I was just far enough to the left to fall and crack my head on the big tree. Of course I was falling down the slope so even though I got my right leg out it touched only air. So I threw out my right arm to keep my head from smashing into the tree only to have my forearm hit the tree causing my body to pivot as I spun twisting and falling down the slope. My head missed the tree mostly but my arm got abraded by the bark and as i fell/twisted I heard and felt a loud pop and searing pain in my right shoulder. I thought, Aw man, I was having a good race too. I went to move my bike out of the trail but it hurt so much when I tried to lift it I just sat down on the slope. Kevin stopped because he saw me wincing in pain and my bike was laying across the trail. Another rider rode back down to inform the race folks of my injury. Just about everyone stopped to ask if I was OK. I tried to tell Kevin I could push my bike back down the hill myself but he would have none of it. He insisted, so we walked down to the place where the trail split and we ran into the guy who went for help. I told Tony I could handle it from there because I could see some Blue Ridge School buildings just below from where I stood. I headed toward them and ran into Tony the race promoter. He took my bike and walked me down to meet Judy from the infirmary. Judy met us by the Church and gave me a field examination. I was able to shrug my shoulders and lift my arm and some other things pain free, all be it slowly. So off to the infirmary to get some ice and saran wrap. Don't ask. While Judy was wrapping me a boy (Brandon)~fourteen or so who had also hurt his shoulder came in and started talking to me. I think he was pretty impressed with my 53x11 kit. He was nice and had lived in Crofton, MD. Judy gave me four ibuprofen's and then drove me down to my car where my bike was sitting. I have to give a big shout out to everyone who helped me or tried to help or even gave a nice word. Thanks everyone!

So I had my first DNF due to injury. The jury is still out on what is wrong with my shoulder. I don't think anything is broken. At first I thought collar bome or something but I don't thnk so after my self-examination. Probably a strain or tear up there near the shoulder joint. I guess I'll have to visit the Doc tomorrow. Bummer.

March 15, 2009

O'Hill Meltdown

Today was the Observatory Hill Meltdown XC race down in Charlottesville, Va. This was to be race #2 of the 2009 VORS but turned out to be race #1 because Camp Hilbert was postponed last weekend until April 4th. Of course last weekend's weather happened to be seventy degrees and sunny both days but the trails would have been quite muddy due to the snow melt. Warm but muddy, I think I could handle that. Enter this weekend, with rain Friday night and then again Saturday (up to 1") forecast to continue into Sunday morning with temps in the Charlottesville area in the upper thirties.

Now the O'Hill trail is on the campus of UVA. After the promoter stated that marginal weather would shift the race to the Tevendale Farm, Saturday night the announcement was made that the race was on. OK, but someone needs to define the term "marginal weather" for me. Anyway, I drove almost three hours to get to the race but arrived on time and about an hour before the start. Another 63 racers pre-registered so there was going to be a pretty good showing. So the weather forecast holds true and it rains the entire race and the temps stay in the upper thirties. The trails were wet, muddy, slippery, etc. I think the conditions were as bad as Spring 2008 Twisted Tire with the exception that there were no trails turned into waterfalls. The laps were supposed to be about six miles long and the promoter told us at the start that they took out one flat section that was about a half-mile long because it was too muddy so the rest was either up or down. I did the sport race and it started on the road by the Slaughter Rec Center. We went up the hill towards the observatory and then cut off the road onto the trail just before the top. The trails were as advertised. It was very hilly. I think I would have liked it if it were dry. OK, my bike and I are not mudders. Our mother's weren't mudders. Our father's weren't mudders. We don't like the slop. Unfortunately for me, on one of the many leaf covered, rock strewn, muddy, white-knuckled descents on my first lap I had something happen to me that has never happened before. Oh, I've crashed many times, but not in this particular way. Like I said, I was picking my way down this descent when I saw a line where there were no leaves so I shifted my weight in that direction and then looked further ahead for the next line I wanted to hit when all of a sudden I realize that my hands are where the handlebars should be, my feet are where the pedals should be, my eyes are still looking down the hill for where I want to go next but my bike has decided to stop. So I hovered about six feet down the hill before my left foot, then knee finally hit ground causing me to tumble onto my left shoulder. Other than a small scrape on my knee I had no damage but the front wheel on my bike unfortunately get wedged or jammed into a hole or rock or limb and got bent. Every rotation of the wheel resulted in a loud clacking noise as the brake calipers slammed into the left fork. Of course, I continued the race and finished even though I took another header on a subsequent similar descent. The second lap was better in that I didn't crash at all and was able to ride some of the hills that I had walked on the first lap even though I was getting dizzy watching the front brakes go back and forth, back and forth. There was one place on the trail where there was about a four foot climb up what seemed to be a rock face with a tree on the left until you got close and saw it was a bunch of big rocks with spaces in between just about a bike tire width. On the first lap some guys in front of me had stopped and walked it so I just joined the parade. On the second lap I was by myself, or so I thought. As I approached this spot I was trying to decide the best way to ride up it when I heard a shout behind me. I bailed left and stopped by the tree and watched Jeremiah Bishop bunny hop up and over. I guess if I were a pro I could do that too.

I don't know where I finished in my race. I do know that I let a whole bunch of guys by me after my wheel was bent. It definitely slowed me down. Hopefully next week at Blue Ridge School won't be as bad weather-wise.

March 12, 2009

The Vision Quest

Well, the weather down here in Southern California is already warming up and this last weekend I got to finish my 5th race of the season already... Yikes! Its going to be a long year!

This was my 3rd time racing in The Vision Quest and it is a very unique mountain bike race combining just about every type of terrain. It has over 11,000 feet of climbing, amazing technical single track and because it is a point to point race the "adventure meter" is way up! Here is another report in our local paper about the race winner Manuel Prado.

I was proud to be representing 53x11 in my new kit and I got some arm warmers just in time. We had a few snow patches to cross and frost on the climbs to the highest peak. The race took competitors anywere from about 5 1/2 hours to almost 10 hours to complete and was a true test of endurance.

I have a full race report posted over on my blog if you are interested in the details and maybe I will see ya out there next year?

March 9, 2009

Torelli Ohio Spring Series

Well, the first two races of the Torelli Ohio Spring Series has been completed. I think I am going to really enjoy this series as it has races from February until June throughout central Ohio. I was happy with my results in the first two races getting a 4th and 1st place finish. I hope to place high so I can upgrade in categories quickly this year.