Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Santa Ynez wuz hot

I cracked HARD in the XC race on Saturday but was able to muster up a halfway decent kicking-out of jams on Sunday for the STXC.
It was a fast start and Blake "Holeshot" Harlan was gunning for the front. I wasn't on the front row so there was the usual battle for position which was short lived due to the immediate entry into singletrack.
Boone was just a few seconds behind me. Although obviously tired from his near success in trying to lap me while riding a wheelie for the whole XC race the day before he was still able to look fabulous in his skinsuit and struck a sweet pose for the best pic of the day:
After things "settled down" (yeah right) we were all strung out along the trail in one big line.
I tried to get around the rider in front of me but he was fighting me for it tooth and nail and there wasn't a whole lot of room to pass so I eventually ended up sitting in so as not to waste too much energy.
I got around him after he let a gap open, but I wasn't able to bridge back up to the group and ended up chasing Ben around from about 10 seconds back.
I pretty much rode in the wind for the rest of the race. I had company in the form of Jason Siegel and John Nobil but after another rider crashed, Jason and I lost Nobil and then on the last lap I attacked and passed another racer at just the right moment to leave him directly in Jasons way.
Hehe, sorry buddy but you have to admit, you were matching ALL my accelerations and making it look easy... I was scared.
Anyway, by then we were at the end of the last lap and my HR was at 194.
I thought I was going to melt before I would reach the finish but I ended up behind Ben (8th), rolling across the line in 9th place before any melting took place. Then I melted.
Blake had crushed it with a podium ride into 3rd place.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Racers and Chasers grudge match

After throwing down an epic 6+ hour training day with Blake, 50+ miles and 10,000+ feet of climbing I foolishly decided to join him in racing at Vail Lake's Racers and Chasers XC hurt-a-thon.

Epic ride screen cap

We lined up and were given the option of doing a 24 mile race (my first choice) or a 32 mile race... (not my first choice!).

Unfortunately for Blake and I Alex Boone was feeling "frisky" and swung the race in the 32 mile direction.

With that decided, we got a sharp "go!" and we were off.

Blake had decided that whatever else happened he was going to get the freakin' holeshot award, and he fired off the line like he was shot out of a cannon.

blake attack R & C  May 10 2008

I was prepared for the attack, but I WASN'T prepared for how UN-prepared the other riders would be. Eventual winner Chuck Jenkins was trying to figure out if he should chase and what gear he was in.
I literally couldn't keep from laughing.

me laughing R & C  May 10 2008

Sadly, Blake missed the turn for the holeshot... Chuck let him know after he was about 100 ft. past it.

About 5 minutes in we all turned in at a riverbed (i.e. NOT the trail!) and then Alex broke his chain.

together R & C  May 10 2008

The next 2 hours we alternated between riding together while talking sh*t about Boone for "making" us do an extra lap and then having the nerve to break his chain, and trying to out-cheat each other.

Here I am trying to block off a huge line so Blake can't pass.

cheat 1 R & C  May 10 2008

Unfortunately for me Blake got "creative" and made a new, better line by taking a sharp right and avoiding the line I was cutting off entirely, forcing me to chase to catch up.

cheat R & C  May 10 2008

After a full contact, WWF style sprint for the finish in which Blake got the best of me for 2nd place we made our way to the podium where we talked trash and I challenged him to an arm-wrestling match. Chuck Jenkins and Robert Herber seem amused.

podium R & C  May 10 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A roadrace, but still... it's sumthin' ta read.

Finish Line

When I signed up for the Devil's Punchbowl Road Race I just ASSUMED that I would be the biggest sandbagger there (seemed safe, and in the end I won so I guess I was right?)

Brooke and I got up early and picked up Eric (Team Bearclaw) and C.J. (Team Eric).

We stopped for gas and coffee and then drove to the venue and kitted up.

Due to confusing web misinformation Eric was in the wrong class but the awesome staff at the race got him into the already full field... with about (literally) 5 seconds to go.

As soon as Eric got to the line, and maybe even a little before, we started racing.

I had decided that since this race course was hilly and hard with headwinds I would race it like a mountain bike race... on the gas the whole time!

So as soon as I had elbowed my way to the front, (there was a yellow line rule in effect and due to the full field, no room to pass) the course turned left and steeply uphill.

I just rode as hard as I could without popping and when we crested the climb there were around 15 guys still in the group.

After the 10 minute descent I was still a bit tired so I wasn't exactly itching to pull yet!

There was one rider who was really pushing the pace though, riding for Simple Green and he attacked a little bit before the end of our first lap, getting a gap on everyone but not taking anyone with him to share the work.

It turned out that he was super strong though, because he just kept pulling away!

After "resting" for a few minutes I figured that since he looked pretty confident and nobody else was working I had better try my best to catch him.

I got into a good rhythm and gave it everything I had but I couldn't get anyone to pull through so I sat up a bit, which is apperently cat 5 code for "attack!".

At this point a scattering of riders (about 5?) swarmed around me, so I jumped on the wheel of one of them.

After a few minutes of the "every man for himself" chasing technique I was on the wheel of a racer on a Trek with gold bar-tape, Eric was was the next rider up the road in 2nd place and the Simple Green guy was still off the front.

We had just gone through the start finish area (where I pondered the benefits of stopping/giving up: Shade? Check. Cool refreshing beverage? Check. Not pedalling this stupid bicycle up that damn hill again? Double check!) and turned up the hill so I could see where everyone was in relation to each other.

The group had sort of come together then, with about 8 or 9 of us and I was pushing the pace up the hill again.

We caught up to Eric and he jumped into the group, but the leader was still up the road.

It all hung together on the descent again, but shortly after we turned right into the false flat and headwinds 2 riders, one of them Brian Davidson from the movie "eat!sleep?bikes!", about a group of friends who do the Furnace Creek 508 on fixed gears, really started pulling hard!

I stayed on their wheels and eventually Brian put in a really hard attack and the 3 of us got away.

When I saw that the gap had opened up I told the guys that if we worked we could make it to the finish, and I started pulling as hard as I could.

Brian and I were able to take pulls but the 3rd racer had used up too much energy earlier and could only sit on, eventually falling off the back.

Brian and I agreed that we wouldn't care too much which of us finished in front of the other as long as we weren't caught, and we both took turns pulling.

Eventually we caught the Simple Green rider and he jumped on with us.

I was the first racer into the last corner before the long (1 mile?) straightaway to the finish and I gassed it as hard as I could as soon as I came around.

Both of them stayed with me, and then Brian attacked and I did my best to keep his wheel.

As we neared the line the Simple Green racer came around me and I thought "Sweet! I'll have a 2 man lead-out for the finish." Wrong! As soon as he came between me and Brian he faded and a gap formed.

It wasn't that far to the line then, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to close the distance before we crossed.

I gave it everything I had and I caught Brian maybe a hundred feet from the finish, passing on his far left and just keeping on going.

Apparently he didn't have a sprint in his legs, which was great for me because I don't think I had one in mine either.

I crossed, he was maybe a second back, and the Simple Green rider finished an impressive 3rd after doing close to a lap off the front.

Eric came through a couple minutes later in 7th, I got a sweet medal and we drove home to BBQ and have a beer.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Idyllwild Spring Challenge

AWESOME race and a really good file to show for it too.
This was the Idyllwild Spring Challenge and I really liked the course because it has a little bit of altitude, hard steep, technical climbs, and technical descending.
ISC file
Registration took longer than I thought it would (1 hr.) and I was worried that I wouldn't get to warm up. Maybe I wouldn't even make it to the start in time?
Luckily the friendly staff at the race took pity on me (and the other people in line) and they pushed the start time back... but that still only left enough time to kit up and use the restroom, with an extremely cursory warmup.
At that point I was pretty happy that it would be a long race (30+ miles).
Since I warmed up as late as possible and they started the Semi Pros with the Pros that meant I was pretty much in the dead-last starting position.
So then they said "go" and 5 sec. later we were in singletrack and I was behind an S-load of racers in a cloud of dust!
I just sat in, passing where I could get by without wasting too much energy until I caught up to Romolo Forcino and Jason Siegle, 2 fast local Semi Pro racers.
There was one other guy there with a CamelBak who I didn't know but who was strong, and he attacked and jumped off the front.
At the time I wasn't able to go with him but after a bit I felt okay so I went hard up a climb and over the top, with Romolo hot on my heels and Robert Herber (a local Pro who had stopped to help a downed racer) right behind us.
Romolo and I rode together, with him setting a fast pace through the tight singletrack, until the REALLY steep climb about an hour and a half into the race.
This section of course actually hit 17% grade at one point! Although it was fireroad it had been paved so that the trucks would have enough traction to get up it and to prevent erosion.
It was about a 16 minute climb but it was really hard and it was pretty much the last long climb in the race so I figured it was going to be where the selection would be made.
I just went as hard up it as I could without popping and I caught the guy with the CamelBak and got a gap on him and and Romolo as I went over the top with Robert Herber leading the way into the fast, loose singletrack.
Robert was going pretty well down the steep descent which suited me fine because I knew that Romolo (a good descender) would be looking to catch us.
I lost some speed in a sandy corner and Robert rode out of sight, but then he must've bobbled too because a minute later I passed him as he was getting up to speed and there was a cloud of dust there.
I was still thinking about Romolo, Jason Siegle and the CamelBak racer though, and I figured now would be my best chance to stay away because if Romolo caught me again I didn't think I'd be able to drop him.
At that point I thought I was in first place so I was pretty motivated and I imagined that Romolo would be working hard to catch me so I went super hard.
In the end it's a good thing that I did because it turned out there was another racer in front of me!
I don't know who he was but I know he was from AZ because he told me when I passed him.
He rode behind me for probably half an hour with both of us passing slower racers who had done a shorter loop every couple minutes.
The singletrack was very twisty and rolling and you had to keep pedalling the whole time.
It seemed like he wasn't quite as comfortable in those sections so I just tried to be smooth and not make any mistakes and after about half an hour the invisible rubber band connecting us stretched and broke.
At that point I really couldn't have been more motivated so I just drilled it all the way to the line, fighting off cramps and passing racers from other classes.
Again I just tried to be smooth and not make mistakes.
There was a long stretch of straigh asphalt after the last main descent (which is one of the funnest, coolest descents EVER) and I kept looking over my shoulder, paranoid that I'd see him and he'd see me and give chase... I didn't have a whole lot of energy left for that kind of battle by then!
I didn't see him, but I wasn't taking any chances so I hammered up the final climb as well as I could without cramping and gave everything I had in the last 2-3 minutes before the line.
When I crossed I asked if I was the first Semi-Pro but the officials didn't know so I had to wait for results.
I THOUGHT I had won though, and it turned out I was right!!!!
ISC prizes
I got a really cool trophy made from a large piece of marble that had been engraved AND 500 bucks!!!
Definitely my best race to date!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!