Wednesday, May 27, 2009

From Emporia

Check out the bike race in Emporia, Kansas at

Coming Up

Monday, May 25, 2009

More Oklahoma Dirt

Congratulations to the 918XC race team for a spectacular event at Keystone Lake west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. First of all there was $2,000 up for 5 places in the Cat 1 class. That is a whole lot of money in the MTB world, and it is darn fun to race for money. It identifies the value that we as racers put on our preparation and race day performance, we get to trade value for value, and whether it is selling a bike to someone who is excited about it, or doing a fit for someone who gets a lot of benefit from your work, or racing a bike as hard as you can, that is pretty much my favorite feeling in the world.
The race course was seriously challenging. There was no one bit that was extremely hard on its own, but when you added up the non stop rock garden with quick poppy steeps, it was taking a toll on your body right from the start. Travis Donn, Aaron Elwell, and I rode a few laps on Saturday, and it was an eye opening ride and I think we were all like, "This should be interesting." We were celebrating Dana, Travis's wife's, Birthday on the trip. She was a good sport to come along for the trip and to celebrate by ordering way more food than we needed at Freddie's Steakhouse and falling asleep early back at the hotel. The hotel guy got us excited to lounge by the pool but we arrived to find the pool covered up and him saying, "too cold, maybe tomorrow." I was not impressed with that service, but we slept good.
Travis raced first on Sunday. He took off with Fury in his eyes and gaped to group on the opening climb, from his account he suffered numerable OTB catapults, but still managed to annihilate the closest competition. It is awesome to watch him getting faster every race, he is quickly turning into a phenomenal MTB racer.
Our race start got pushed back to noon. The prize purse attracted a good size field in the expert class, estimations of my crew had it over 20 racers taking off together. We started at the base of a long hill, that after 50 yards or so of pavement funneled you into a grassy/gravely singletrack beside the road up to the top of the hill. I was 5th into the grass, passed one guy before the top and poised to shoot around to Ray Hall's wheel at the top. I gassed it, and some Mad Duck rider and I traded a few elbows. I was in position to ride him into the bushes and go into the trail in second, but he seemed determined to have a collision with me if need be so I let him in. Immediately the guy started to coast and Ray, who is incredibly strong and an incredibly daft bike handler on his home trail, began walking away from us. I was getting pretty frustrated riding behind the other racer. I did not like to be the antagonist that I was, but I at least wanted a chance to try and stay with Ray. The Mad Duck rider continued to flounder and the gap grew, one rider even passed us both when Mad Duck dropped his chain after skipping off a rock and I plowed into him and dropped my chain as well. The first straight climb I went around him and began to ride my own race. It was obvious I was not going to reel in Ray unless he imploded (which did not appear likely) so I just rode hard and steady and hoped the gap behind me was opening.
The rest of the race I focused on riding as smooth and fast as I could through the endless rocks. Travis was giving me helpful time checks that helped me gauge my effort in the second half of the race. I was sucking down bottle after bottle of Heed and I ate three packets of Gu- it was about as much calories as I have ever taken in in a two hour race. Amber and Dana were perfect in the pits keeping everything cold and encouraging us on. I came to the finish line in 1:54 minutes, a distant second place to Ray Hall of 918XC Racing. Ray rode impressively to say the least. Aaron Elwell got around the rest of the field and rounded out the top three. I was pretty stoked to get cut a check for my racing effort.
In other notables Doung "Pappy" Long took second in a phenomenal race in the expert 50+ category. Three riders duked it out hard, and Doug earned a well fought runner up. My Dad came all the way from Great Bend to participate and did three laps with the expert class with his brand new Golden Belt Bicycle jersey. The kids race was a hilarious affair, but as is not surprising the kid with the Mohawk took top honors. Lyle Riedy showed his form is coming around and put in a solid three laps looking strong.
We pulled all the ticks off and hopped back in the car for the drive home. Good Ol' Oklahoma Braums provided the recovery in form of Bacon Cheese Burger, Fries, and a Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake. You better believe it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

OKC Dirty Six & Ethos Racing

Jesse Gross, Travis Donn, and I headed down after BikeSource closed on Saturday to Oklahoma City. This was the first race in the Ridin Dirty endurance series, it was a 6 hour at Lake Thunderbird outside on Norman, OK. We arrived at a friend of Jesse and Travis's that had a sweet little apartment in Bricktown just after 11:00. There was a international triathlon that took place on Saturday and Andy was already hosting a couple of Brazilians and one Swede that had competed that day, so it was a full house. We all crashed hard, and got a good nights sleep before the race.
Thunderbird is a sandy maze of trails with endless bermed out corners set in a sea of poison ivy. We did not pre-ride the trail, but I have raced there a few times in the past so I knew the basic style. Laps were just under 7 miles so Travis and I decided to do two at a time. I took the first pull, and was the first one on my bike at the Le Mans start, and we never looked back. The course was hit pretty hard by rain the week before and it did not look like it had seen much action lately. My first lap was my slowest of the day, an even by my second lap the trail had picked up speed considerably with all the tires over it.
Travis took solid pulls the whole race and conceded no time to our pursuers. Our lead was steadily growing, and the trail kept getting more and more fun. By my third set of laps everything was clicking and did my fastest two laps and set fast lap for the day at 31:14. Travis knocked out one more and we finished a few minutes after 3:00 to seal the deal. The race was expertly ran and it was a shame that the rain had scared off many people. The people that were there all got treated to an awesome day of racing. Hopefully we can make the other races in the series and support all their hard work.
This was the first event for what will become Ethos Racing team. Under the banner for the first time it was good to chalk up a nice W. More to come.

Monday, May 4, 2009

2009 Kansas Fat Tire Festival

Over the past decade+ I have had little consistency in my yearly race calendar. I have raced all kinds of races all over but rarely do I get to make it back time and again to races, or the races no longer exist. The exception to that is my Dad's race at Lake Wilson State Park. I believe that I have participated in a race at Lake Wilson every year since I was in middle school. Adding on to that, I have ridden more miles in the dirt at Lake Wilson than probably any other trail in my personal singletracking quest. The memories stretch out in an endless string of endorphin charged euphoric bliss. Stomping out the initial trail with my Dad and a group of friends hopping up and down in a single file line, attempting to smooth out the ground. Cold winter rides that had to be prematurely finished to make it back to high school basketball practice. Riding deep into the night on my first 29er singlespeed, scraping out the remnants of peanut butter in a jar that I found in the back of my ragged out Toyota Camry, to power one more lap. My Dad and Bob Behrens staying up all night, feeding me food and encouraging me as I prepared for my first 24 hour race. Innumerable ticks, countless poison ivy breakouts, many too many snake avoidance bunny hops, one humongous wildcat sighting, the list could go on and on.
2009's event only brought more of the same good times. The Saturday afternoon hill climb was the usual painful affair. We all lined up at the big rock at the bottom and my good friend Herb Phillips sent us all off in one minute intervals. I had the brain dialed all the way down and my fork locked out with the bike shifted into the big chainring. I dropped the hammer for all I was worth and I believe my 2:16 was my best posted time since the addition of the S curves right after the road crossing. I had closer competition than some years with Bill Klinesmith running a 2:26 and a handful of other racers including my Uncle Chris, and Mike Maurchin just seconds behind him. Saturday afternoon we rode some more of the course and I enjoyed greatly the new sections of trail, I was pretty psyched to let one uncork the next day. My Dad put our lot up in a sweet little B-n-B in Wilson, where we got a good nights sleep and had a stellar breakfast. Simple Haven Bed and Breakfast is a wonderful little spot that if anyone is ever looking for a unique and relaxing MTB weekend this would make a perfect package. Even though it drizzled all night the trails were not affected, in fact they were probably better than they would have been bone dry. Racing mate Travis Donn and I took a little warm up before the race, four miles in he had got a feel for what the trail was like and decided that was warmed up enough, this trail will do that to you. I had decided that this race needed to be a real hard workout day for me, being that it is a tough 24 miles, and West Virgina is now only a month away, I wanted to whip myself silly by the end. I got out and was pushing a big gear and really trying to ride hard, I was having so much fun the positive sensations kept snowballing the whole race until the end was just a blur of trail and happiness. Since the course has been changing every year lately I cannot really compare my times, but I felt better than ever before.
Steve and Elizabeth Heal graced us with their presence coming down from Denver for the race. It was wonderful to see them again, and Liz won the women's Expert race convincingly. Travis Donn has now progressed onto his 3rd MTB race and was once again 2nd in his Sport division. The Singlespeeders were raging, they went 1, 2, 3, in the one lap race. Salina Jon, took top honors with Great Benders in the next two places. Morgan Stevens was the sole women's SS'er, she crushed the course. Their was also a host of youngster's that was quite impressive. The Smith Family from Hays, Kansas had two boys that had an enthusiasm for mountain biking like I have never witnessed, another little tike from Lawerence shredded the kids course, and in true kids course winner fashion continued to ride his BMX bike all day long up and down the gravel piles in the parking lot. Dodge Nily is the rising star in Great Bend. Although he qualifies yet for the kids race he took on the adults and smoked out an insanely fast time for I kid who I doubt weighs 70 lbs. Even his light weight bike is like me racing on a 40+ lb machine. Props to everyone who came out, signed up, and went as hard as they could. That takes courage and is a honorable endeavor.
Another year in the books, another successful Kansas Fat Tire Festival.