Monday, July 22, 2013

TdB and a Broken Hand

Le Tour, The Only Race That Matters...The Tour de Burg.

I was really looking forward to this race, 5 days of huge rides and serious chillin' in Harrisonburg. I would be sleeping on Ryan Fawley's floor, sharing space with Dan Wolf and 2012 Men's Leader Collin Becker.  Stage 1 started off at high noon on Wednesday with a timed loop up Boy Scout and down the other side. The descent would be a Super D run too, so I would take a shot at that. I went real slow on the climb and after some timing controversey later that night, was around 6th on the Super D. Not what I wanted, but decent after blowing way off the trail through a tight corner.

The second timed section was up Hankey then over to all the sick new trail on Lookout. This would have no Super D, so I wasn't real concerned with how things went. I just tried to not hemorrhage time on the climb and ride smooth on the ridge, although I did go over the bars on the last rock move. Oops.

Day 2 would take us over to Little Sluice and would have two timed sections. We started off with a party pace ride up to the top via a super slippery, technical trail. At the top we would start on some double track then funnel into some excellent rocky goodness. I had a decent start but got tangled up several times, which landed me further back than I wanted. Eventually I made some moves and was on Zack Morrey's wheel with Sue Haywood not far behind. Zack let me by quickly and I shortly closed the gap to Collin Becker. About 20 seconds ahead of Collin was the lead group and I knew I could catch up if I got by. I called out my pass and Collin moved to the side, but unfortunately I was going way too fast and things got out of control. I guess I hit a rock that launched my rear wheel into the air which usually isn't a big deal. However when I was doing a nose-wheelie for what seemed like ages, a rocky waterbar appeared and that sealed my fate. I had no choice but to slam it with my front wheel and I went flying end over end. I got back up and felt ok, I definitely didn't hit my head and wasn't in pain, yet. I told Sue, Zack and Collin to keep going and that I would be fine.
Driving is hard

I jumped back on my bike and neither brake worked. This would be an interesting ride out. I coasted for a few feet before hitting the first bump and that's when I felt the sharp pain in my hand and I knew it was broken. It was swelling already. I DNFed the stage and caught a ride back in the sag-wagon. Day 3 though was a road stage and since I was already down there I was determined to ride. I could ride in the drops with minimal pain, shifting was pretty easy but braking was...tough. The gravel descents were brutal...very slow going to keep my hand in relative comfort.
I finally hit up the Urgent Care and got some X-Rays. Third metacarpal fracture with some major angulation. I was hoping for a quick recovery but I had a feeling that since the bone was sticking up so much that I might need more than a splint. I consulted an orthopedic specialist and he advised surgery and a plate. Dang. Goodbye summer racing. I had surgery on Wednesday and my follow up is on Thursday, hopefully I get some good news. Maybe I'll get some sweet X-rays to see how the new hardware looks.
 I have been off my bike for almost 3 weeks and it is slowly killing me.  I should be able to make it to the SM100, but it looks like a party pace year for me. I might have to race CX this year, but we'll see about that. Vive le tour!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mohican 100

Better late than never...

The Mohican 100 is one of my favorite NUE events. The singletrack is super fun, the course is pretty interesting and it's not too far away. I've done this race for the past few years including the Mud-hican of 2010. Previously I have always raced with gears here, but this year I decided to ride my singlespeed for a change and it would provide a built in excuse if I went extra slow.

Friday morning I met up with Pat Blair, Jed Prentice and Mike Tabasko and carpooled to Loudonville. Once there we pre-rode what would be the first and last 4 miles of singletrack. As we finished our ride some dark clouds rolled in and shortly after a huge downpour fell...I was getting a little worried about conditions for the race! We went straight to dinner and each ordered a whole pizza for ourselves and some more rain fell while we finished our beers. Back to the room we mixed bottles, lube chains and made final preparations for the race.

Up at 4am, breakfast, bathroom, more food, bathroom and before I knew it I'm lined up on the starting line. I lined up in the second row knowing that it's tough to maintain position on the slight downhill through town. I narrowly avoided a big wreck right in front of me that took down both Jed and Mike (who both would go on to finish the race, Mike coming in 4th Open) As soon as we hit the huge wall coming out of town, I started going backwards. I went so f'ing slow up this hill, it was ridiculous...I was really worried about the next 95 miles at this point. I could see a huge stream of riders ahead of me and I must have been in 200th place hitting the singletrack.

Everyone jockeyed for some position and things started to spread out. The trails were wet and slippery, but not messy. I was having a ton of fun cruising the slick trails and it wasn't long before I started picking riders off. Despite my terrible start I realized that I was riding pretty well and decided to go with it. I spent the entire first 30 miles of singletrack catching and passing riders, no one passed me. I really had no idea where I was in the SS race or even the overall, but I knew that I had caught a lot of singlespeeds and was pretty sure at this point that I was top 10 SS. Just before aid station 3 I caught Cheryl Sorenson, so I knew that I had moved up pretty far as she is usually in good position and our finish times are often very close.

Just after aid 3 is the biggest singletrack climb of the day and I got a pretty solid gap on Cheryl and the other rider we were with. After this climb though, the only two 100 miler racers I would see for the rest of the day would be Cheryl and Masters winner Alec Petro who both caught me on the 10 mile rail trail section. Everyone has a low point during an NUE event, and the rail trail was mine. You really can only spin 32x19 so fast so it's not like you can even hammer to get it over with quickly. I was so bored that I was talking to myself out loud and practicing wheelies. After what felt like 45 hours I finally got into aid 4 at Glenmont and was on my way. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful and I was so happy to get to the final 4 miles of singletrack. The trails are dried up nicely and I still had plenty of energy to enjoy the trail. I finished the race in 8:05, 7th singlespeed and 18th overall.

I knew I was top 10 singlespeed but was really surprised to be so far up in the overall. I passed a ton of people all day, but that result still surprised me. I haven't been "training" this year, although that is not to say I haven't been riding so I wasn't sure what type of result to expect. All day I stayed positive and just had a really fun time riding my bike for 8 hours. I didn't even feel that bad once the race was over, the course was great, the weather was good and my bike was solid!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SM100 2011 Report

I think it’s safe to say that the Shenandoah Mountain 100 is the most eagerly awaited MTB race in the Mid-Atlantic. It caps off most riders’ seasons and marks the unofficial end of summer. It rolls on some of the best trails around and the support and organization from SMT and the volunteers is matched by no other NUE event that I’ve done.

At 5am I heard the traditional wakeup gong sounding around the field and I rolled out of bed. And by rolled out of bed, I mean that I stood up from where I was sleeping. I slept on the ground in the field...I don’t require many amenities. At least I didn’t have to ride to the race in the dark like I did 2 weeks ago at Fool’s Gold. Anyhow, I ate my breakfast of champions (granola, banana and a pop tart) and dropped off my drop bags. I snuck a third bag in there but it ended up getting lost. Probably had something to do with my third-grader quality handwriting on the front.

Naturally, I nearly miss the start (again) because of poor planning and excessive lines at the crapper. Once underway though I made some moves to where I wanted to be once the pace started to lift, and I could tell by the company I was keeping that I was in with the top 50 or so. Up the first climb I was around Dylan Johnson and a few other fast guys. I’ve only ever done this race previously on a singlespeed and have never been near the front, so I was pleasantly surprised at the pace and lack of walkers in the first singletrack. Up one of the steeper pitches Dylan had to jump off and I went around. I wouldn’t seem him again for the rest of the day. We’re quickly onto the loose rocky descent on the other side and this is where my strength is. I love going downhill fast. Once out onto the fireroad past aid 1 I catch Gerry Pflug and Matt Ferrari spinning away on their singlespeeds. That’s the first time I’ve ever passed Gerry. Cool.

Shortly after a big group of 20 or so forms with some sub-to-low 8 hour riders. The pace is pretty high but my heart rate and legs feel good so I go with it. There’s a bit of a dash into the singletrack climb and Pat Miller and Ian Spivak spin away. I figure they’re both gone for good. Close to the top Gerry comes by cranking away, but once the trail points down he lets me get by. Towards the bottom I catch another slow moving train but I stayed put since I knew we were almost at the end of the trail. No point in making any sketchy moves this early on. There’s plenty of time left for that.

We get to aid 2 in no time. I don’t have drop bags here so I ditched my empty bottles and just grabbed fresh bottles from the volunteers. Our group rolls on to the Hankey Mountain climb which is the second longest of the day. I get into a good rhythm and I can see Pat Miller in the distance so I know I wasn’t going as slow as I usually do uphill. At the very top though I’m alone and start to rail the Dowell’s Draft descent. I got to ride this earlier in the year at SDS and it was sweet, but SMT really cleans it up for the 100. I catch a 29er Crew teammate that lets me by quickly, then shortly after I catch Ian who is followed by someone else. I sit on for a minute but this descent is sooo sweet I need to get around. Ian lets us get by and I cruise on down into aid 3. I roll out with Pat Miller again and we trade pulls up 250 for a while until Ian and Lee Hauber bridge back up to us. We all rotate very well and make short work of the road section.

Ian and Lee get away on the climb up towards Braleys and I sit on Pat’s wheel. I figure if I can hang on till the top I should be fine. Pat gets a stick caught in his derailleur and I get by, but luckily it’s not a big deal and he’s riding again shortly. We finally get to the top and are pointed downhill. This is definitely my favorite descent of the day. Beautiful flowing lines with just enough techy stuff to keep you honest. I catch Lee and 5 seconds after I pass him I crash off the side of the trail. I jumped back on as Pat catches up to me but I pulled away again quickly. I catch and pass Lee again but manage to stay upright this time. I get to aid 4 and Joe P was waiting with my bag. I swap bottles and am out in record time. I catch Jeff Dickey on the way out of aid 4 and we trade pulls for a few miles. This dude is super super strong and kills it in 1/2/3 road races and Elite MASS races. I start to wonder why I’m trading pulls with such a strong rider and eventually accept that all of my training has paid off. A few minutes later Jeff says he’s starting to feel bad and drops off. Shit. I don’t want to ride this section solo. I maintain my high zone 2 pace though because really there’s no choice. I figured the Pat Miller train would eventually catch me, but what’s the point in waiting around.

I glanced back after awhile and can see Pat, Lee and Jeff closing the gap but it seems like forever till they swallow me up. We all cruise along together then make the worst right hand turn in the race up the Death Climb. Lee and Jeff make some moves but we’re all still together. Eventually Lee pulls away never to be seen again. Pat drops off after awhile and it’s just me and Jeff. Jeff clearly isn’t feeling so hot and he thinks the aid station is after every turn we get to. Sorry dude, we’re not there yet. Eventually he drops back and Pat Miller comes roaring by and I accelerate to keep his wheel. I would looove to beat him today so I might as well try to stick his wheel. We both roll into and out of aid 5 and cruise together till the top of Little Bald where I start to fall off. In the distance though I can hear him yell that he’s at the descent and that lifted my motivation pretty quick.

I dive into the descent and catch Pat and he lets me by. It’s clear that I’m riding out of control and taking tons of risks, so it was probably a wise move on his part. I managed to keep it together and not flat my racer-boy tires which is a miracle. I also catch local fast guy Ryan Fawley but he pulls away on some of the speed scrubbers and I never see him again. Towards the bottom on the side of the trail is a rider with some first aid workers. This guy is staring into space and has blood all over his face. After that reality check I chill out and slow down for the rest of Little Bald. Finally I get to aid 6 and just ride through. I have enough fluids left to last me the hour or so the last section will take. At the bottom of our second pass up Hankey Pat rolls by and I have nothing left to give. I party pace up Hankey, luckily getting passed by only one other rider and roll into the finish in 8:16 for 23rd Open and 25th overall out of ~600 starters, 3 minutes behind Pat.

The only time I felt really bad were the rollers leading into Death March and the second time up Hankey. I can live with that. I bested my previous PR time by nearly 45 minutes. The race was such a great way to finish off my year of racing. I didn’t do much XC and focused mostly on endurance racing. I was worried after a pretty bad race at Cohutta, but things turned around and I consider my results this year to be a major success. I finally got into the sub-8 group at Wilderness which was probably my best race. I’m looking forward to next year but am glad to just ride for fun until then. Also, there was a rumor someone shit their chamois. I didn’t shit my chamois so I will also file that into the ‘success’ category.

Wilderness 101 2011 Report

tl;dr version: Great race, things went well.

Yesterday I raced the Wilderness 101 in State College PA. This race was important to me because it was my last chance this year to do a 100 in under 8 hours. The other two that I'm doing have slower courses so this was it. I came into it pretty nervous after what was a disastrous race at Michaux last weekend. I never really felt particularly well all week, and on Friday I just felt super tired.

On Saturday morning I got ready and got my drop bag situation handled. The plan was this: Start with two full bottles of Infinit (the best stuff in the world, go buy a truckload) and grab a third bottle at the aid station 1 hand off. At aid 2 I would restock from my drop bag, aid 3 just use plain water, aid 4 restock from 2nd drop bag, and at aid 5 I would pound as much coke as possible. My plan was set.

At 7am, the whistle blew, but the first 2 miles are neutral until we make the left hand turn up the first climb. I tried to make my way towards the front-ish to avoid needing to pass them all later on. Up the first climb I was in the B group if you will. The super fast guys were already hammering for sure, but I just wanted to ride a strong but not insane pace. Up and over the first major climb and into some rolling hills. The first 30-40 miles are super important because there's not a whole lot of singletrack, mostly rolling hills so it really helps to get into a group that wants to work together. I was in a group that was maybe 20-30 deep, but they were working terribly together. I took my turns on the front and mostly just tried to stay out of trouble while doing as little work as possible.

By aid station 2, the group had thinned out a bit and I was riding with Cheryl Sorenson (last year's women's winner) and 2 others. We rotated very well taking strong was nice to ride with others who actually know how to work together. In and out of aid 2 and we start the next major climb. One rider blows past me, but I catch him by the top and never see him again. I dropped everyone that I was riding with earlier, but my legs still didn't feel very good. I was getting a little nervous. 20 minutes later I top out and hit the super fun, rocky descent and see Chris Beck on the side of the trail looking at his bike. I offer no help. A few rolling miles of gravel road and we're onto what I think is the second worse climb of the race. Really long, plenty steep in places and exposed. But this year something was different, my legs weren't protesting. They were actually moving me forward at a reasonable pace without feeling awful. I pull in several riders, Roger Masse, the men's masters leader being one. He's 50 years old, but still fast as hell.

We get to the top and hit aid station 3, I grab new bottles and get rolling. Roger doesn't stop, but I catch back up quickly. We ride together into the singletrack and I begin to pull away. The trail is pretty flat, but it's loamy with lots of rocks, so it still takes a lot of energy to ride through quickly. I catch a few more riders and then we hit a crazy steep loose descent. I catch another rider and I can smell his brake pads burning up. He overshoots a corner and I get gets less crazy but Roger catches me. He's ripping on his full suspension while I'm getting beat up on the hardtail. Up the next climb and I drop Roger for the final time. I also catch Justin Pokrivka and he looks terrible. Looks like he won't be winning the SS class this year. At the top we drop into some more singletrack that is shared with the Stoopid 50 race, but we eventually bust a left instead and drop down the other side of the ridge. At this point I've caught the women's leader (Vicki Barclay) and at the corner she says in her Scottish accent "This trail is serious shit!". And it was. I start descending behind her but my tube that is strapped to my seatpost falls off and wedges between my tire and the chainstays, so I have to stop and waste a minute or so pulling it out and getting situated. I never did catch back up to her, but could see her up ahead several times.

Into aid 4 and I'm ~15 minutes ahead of last year. For me, the climb out of aid 4 is the worst. It's long, sorta steep and rocky. It's hard to get into a good rhythm but my legs still feel ok so I do what I can to make the most of it. Up and over and we hit some rolling snowmobile and dirtbike trails that are really sandy and slow. Fortunately there wasn't much of this and I was back onto fireroad soon enough. Down another ridiculously rocky downhill that surely devoured tire sidewalls and into aid 5. They have cold Coke at this one, and man it is delicious. I drink as much as I can in 30 seconds and get the heck out. 12 miles to go with an 1:15 left to reach my sub 8 goal. Things were looking good. Hit some rail trail, and maintain a steady high zone 2/low zone 3 pace. Off the trail onto some gravel road and onto the last climb of the day. It's sort of a false flat to start, but then you make a sharp left and it gets sort of steep. My plan this year was to stay on the big ring and grind it out. There's no reason not to, I don't need to conserve energy any more. I do manage to stay in the big ring and the climb is over...I rip down the other side to the Fisherman trail and then quickly onto the flat stuff that leads back to the start/finish area. Checking the clock I know that I'll be in under 8, but I pedal hard anyway. I round the last few corners dragging a singlespeeder behind me and we roll in together at 7:46. 19th Open, and I think 23rd overall out of ~350. I felt so good during the second half and that was really rewarding.