Sunday, June 28, 2009

With a full season of racing planned out it is nice to have some time to rest and train in the middle of it. I took a week off after Big Bear and started in fresh last weekend on riding hard again. It took a few days for the motivation to return but now I have 9 mile firmly in my sights. I busted out some solid training days throughout the week, lots of long tempo work trying to lay some big watts down, to get ready for the pedal-fest that is 24 hours of Nine Mile. We will be in action next at Springfield, MO on the 12th for the next MWFTS event, and then the following weekend in Emporia, KS for their innagural XC race, then leaving for Nine Mile Forest in Wausaw, WI. But before any of that we have my favorite holiday to go celebrate in Great Bend. July 4th in Great Bend, KS is the stuff and I can hardly wait to ride some of the trails and see stuff blow up.

Old school pic shredding the local river trails in Great Bend

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some Pics

me going

Craig going

race food
the legend

2009 24 hours of Big Bear

It has come and gone and it was every bit as great as I had anticipated. I still feel the effects in my body and I wanted to write it down before the soreness and weariness go away because it helps me savor it that little bit more. I have said it on here plenty before but I just cannot help repeating myself that 24 hour relay races are my absolute favorite way to ride a bike.

We got on the road Wednesday with a later start than we wanted due to Jason's plane ride home from New York being cancelled. It was a pretty huge bummer that he had to fly back to Kansas City before he drove nearly all the way back from where he was being held up. He did a masterful job of not complaining about the absurdity of the situation and just carrying on. Thursday afternoon we got our first crack at the trail. It had been raining a ton in West Virgina and lucky for us all this trail holds up to ride able conditions even with loads of water being poured on top of it. But that does not mean you are not going to pay for it somehow, all the wet made a already demanding course simply brutal. Your rolling speed was drained and you had to work so hard for all the momentum you earned, no freebies here. The rocks and roots were slick but not in the way you might expect, the fine gravel of the dirt helped you cling to the rocks even when they were covered over in the motor oil like wet dirt. We rode another lap on Friday, it had rained more and was harder yet, all the climbs were infinitely harder because you had to work so hard to get to the base of the hill. All that said the course was still a riot. Plenty of descending, plenty of fast singletrack, plenty of places you were rewarded for being able to ride fast through a mess of rocks. The crown jewel of the course is about a 2 mile stretch that begins in a soft pine forest with huge pushed up berms, that gives way to a mostly downhill rhythm section that you can scream through if you can get people out of your way fast enough and committ to some tough lines at speed, and that gives way to a monster downhill that gets progressively faster until you are at breakneck speeds plummeting through terrain where you better not stop and contemplate what you are doing. The lap ended with two back to back monster climbs that were punishing everyone, they were ferocious and would make your stomach hurt standing in the exchange tent waiting for your teammate and your turn on the course.

Race day went smoothly up to the start, My team has all a been through many of these before and we had a great campsite set up and all our bases covered. Amber came to help and Andy Smith came over from DC to keep us company and help out with whatever he could. We had a darn good team in all. Scott was doing the first lap, the energy on that start line was out of control. Everyone took off like they were shot from a cannon, it was incredible to watch. Scott had a phenomenal start, rode a great lap, and put me out in 7th overall. I caught and passed all the team racers that were ahead of us, but two outstanding Solo racers remained ahead of me. My first lap turned out to be my fastest lap at 1:10.27, it came up just short of the fastest lap for the event to Josh Tostado's 1:10.14. Craig and Jason took their pulls and the story of the race began to form. We were chasing the West Virgina team lead by local hero Gunnar Shoogren, and a Pittsburgh team was knocking on our backdoor. I think we were about 12 minutes down when the sun went down. We battled hard through the night, at one point we pulled to 6 minutes and change behind the WV team. We could not get over the hump but were putting some solid real estate between us and third place. It was odd how my laps fell into order. I ended up doing five laps, but only had one night lap. I went out just after midnight and had a wildly enjoyable lap, and came back in solidly under my goal of keeping it sub 1:20. After that I went to sleep and did not wake up until the sun was up. It was good to get the sleep, but I did not do as good of a job preparing for that lap as I should have. My nutrition was a little low and I should have had my bike in better shape, my first lap the next morning was only around a minute faster than my night lap. With sun rise it was looking increasingly like we would not be catching the team ahead of us. Scott and I had the final two laps of the race and we did cut back into their lead by ten minutes to finish a respectable 19 minutes behind. My last lap was painful bliss, the course was getting a touch drier and I was chasing hard trying to get up to a five man team that had started a few minutes ahead of me. I had a solid lap with a 1:13 but it was not quite enough to bridge us to the 5 man dude who finished :30 seconds ahead of me. It was fun to have someone to chase and give my last lap a little boost.

We broke down camp quickly and had everything loaded up into the two vehicles before the awards. It is always fun to stand on the podium with your boys and put your hands in the air after such a big effort. It provided good motivation for the rest of the season and hopefully returning to do battle again next year. We ate huge hamburgers and got in the car to put some hours in. Actually I knew what was going to happen. Jason was not going to stop until we got home. This is where the story goes from awesome racing to legendary. Immediately after leaving Morgantown I was rendered completely useless in the passenger seat as Amber and Jason chatted and started going, it just took a bit and I regained consciousness and we motored up and onto I70 pointed West. Amber slept while Jason and I talked about the race and whatever else to help pass the time. Soon Columbus, Ohio was in the rear view mirror and Jason drove on. We came to Indianapolis in the dark and pushed on. Around about midnight I got behind the wheel for a short stint, I took us to the west side of St. Louis and we re-grouped at Quick Trip, Jason bought a large Coke and a strudel. I became, as Jason put it, "a puddle of flesh," in the passenger seat and he moved forward. A hour outside of KC I came to, We were entering thunderstorms and with a hour to go a bit of humanity leaked from Jason when he said, "I'm ready to be done." I was awake and amazed as we drove into the lights and the rain of Kansas City. Jason dropped Amber and I off at Craig's house and we got in our car for the painful drive across town to our bed, which we hit at 5:30 AM. Unbelievable.

Monday, June 8, 2009

XC Columbia, MO

Another Mid West Fat Tire race this past weekend in Columbia, MO. There was a good turn out in Cosmo Park made up of mostly people not from Kansas City. If I had a dollar for every complaint I have heard this year about there not being local races I would be well to do, and then a race 1:30 hours away and 20 or so KC racers are there, hmmm. Anyway, it was raining a bit while we got registered. Travis and I changed into race duds and rode a lap. Even though we were splashing up a bit of water all in all the trails was still fine, and with the next storm missing to the south I could tell it was going to be in great shape in just a short bit. The sun came poking out and we all began to sweat immediately. Luckily we made a late decision to bring Amber along and with her water bottle handing up expertise, that would prove crucial.
A good group of experts toed the line, it was cool to have Josh Johnson on the start line, and Dave Breslin decided not to do the long haul class. The race was a quick start, a GT dirt coalition rider named Jonathon took of like a canon and shredded the opening descent, Dave was in 2nd and I was chasing them both in 3rd. Dave came up behind a marathon racer on a quick tight climb and could not get around, I carried momentum around them both towards the top of the hill and began to chase Jonathon. With Dave in tow we caught Jonathon fairly quickly and I went around him and made a hard dig on the climb to leave Dave. I had a bit of a gap going into a long climb that I thought I was going to big ring pin it up the whole thing, instead I was not looking down the correct trail and pin'd it right through the yellow tape. I scrambled up the climb on my feet, and Dave was with me looking like he was feeling a lot better than me. Dave rode behind me until we started the 2nd lap and then he went around, I tried to chase and kept pulling him back a bit on the climbs but awhile later he was out of sight. Time checks from helpful trail side observers had me anywhere between thirty seconds to a minute back, on my third lap I started feeling in a grove, a reliable source gave me 35 second gap up to Dave. I tried to raise the pace again but every time I did the heat felt oppressing and I had to slow down. I finished my fourth lap and there was confusion at the line if I had finished or not, Dave had come in a minute earlier-under the 1:30 mark-so he had to go back out. I came in right at 1:30-or so we are guessing-and so I went over to the shade of out pop up and began eating grapes. I really did not want to do another lap so it was OK with me. Behind me it was more confusion. The GT rider finished third, but there was some question about if he was on the right course the whole time. Chris Ploch was just behind him and he certainly was on the right course the whole time. Josh Johnson and Mike Best rounded out the paying places.
Travis Donn was in a knock out drag down race that unfortunately ended with the opposing rider not finishing due to mechanicals, but Travis did take his second W in a row. The rest of our KC crew all had respectable finishes, and most importantly were there.
After the lengthy awards, we all went and ate Shakespeare Pizza. The tales grew bigger and our bellies were filled.

Wednesday it is off to West Virginia. I will be sending twitter updates onto my blog about our teams progress. And as always you can keep up with the race with real time results at Granny Gears website. I will let you know how it goes.