Tuesday, July 28, 2009

24 hours of 9 mile

Yup that is what we were looking for. Craig Stoeltzing, Jason Gaikowski, Travis Donn, and myself won convincingly in Wausau, WI at the 2nd of three stops for the Granny Gear 24 hour National Series. It was one to savor for sure.

Thursday morning early we headed out of KC. Amber and I were riding with Travis, and Craig was caravan'ing with Jim Cummins and Dave Burnett, leaving room in his car for Jason on the way home who would be flying into Wausau after business obligations in Dallas. Thursday we hooked up with Pappy Long and James Shefflet for our first glimpse of the 2009 course. I was happy to find that you entered your first section of singletrack much sooner than previous years I raced there. The first half of the race was a little to much doubletrack, but it made the miles go by quickly. There was some awesome singletrack sections in first half and particularly one long run that kept getting rockier, tighter, and more downhill at the same time until it shot you out of the woods all grinning and churning. The 2nd half of the course you lead off with the most taxing climbs of the trail, but they were not much after thinking back on Big Bear, and then some great singletrack that took a lot of focus to ride fast. They had it marked as just over 14 miles long, we could tell that it was going to be fast, like never take it out of the big ring fast.

I was leading us off which meant doing the run, which seemed unusually long. I sprinted (Cameron style sprint) to the first U-turn of the run, so as to not get trampled from the 238 people behind me. I think I was something like 6th or 8th to my bike and then I was in 2nd entering singletrack. I went into the lead after the first section of trail, but some dude bridged up to me from behind. We were storming along together, and he attacked out on the road and pulled me along for awhile, then I went hard up the roller climbs and could not shake him. Then we relaxed a bit and worked together with his big wheels charging the doubletrack and me leading through the singletrack. After doing the majority of the work he let me roll into the tent first, and send Jason out in the lead for the first lap. All of us had good 1st laps and established a lead in our first rotation. Our main rival team from Montana was something like 10 minutes down when I got the baton the second time. This was my lap to try for the fastest lap, without having to run at the start I thought I would have comfortably had a sub 1 hour lap, but now with that effort in the legs and moving heavily into lapped traffic it was going to be far from comfortable to hit my sub hour goal. My half way check was good, 27 minutes and change, but I knew the second half of the course was not as fast and much tighter for passing. I kept steady and only had one incident with a lady tipping right in front of me through some rocks and me having to start cyclocross season a couple of months early. In the tent to swipe the card and stop my time 59.59, how sweet a difference one second can make. It would hold up as the fastest lap for the event.

Craig had to endure a punchy little rain storm that came over in the afternoon, it initially slowed the trails, but as soon as the gravel soil drank up the water it made the course much better. My third lap was a blast with the singletrack packed in and allowing you to relax more through the corners instead of drifting and fighting for traction every corner. The sun went down while I was out and I finished the last few miles with my headlamp on. Night time is where the race is won or lost, teams can flounder through the trails making mistakes and getting frustrated while wasting precious energy, or if everyone stays positive and keeps the morale up and keeps having fun and staying focused you can bring the sun up well on your way to the podium. Everyone on our team did a great job of staying consistent and not making mistakes. Travis was a 24 hour rookie but you would not have known it by his lap times or his attitude, I did not have any doubts that he would not ride phenomenally well, but I was still impressed with his efforts. I had the last night lap and saw the sun rise on the trail, that experience is worth millions. My 5th lap was my worst for sure, I went the slowest and was in the most discomfort. I never really slept a wink and all the campfire breathing was making my chest pretty wheezy. With the sun coming up and Jason finishing his 5th lap we were all left with one to go. Everyone was storming in the morning. Sometimes you get those magic morning legs and you will like a bill and just have more fun than you ever do riding. I was definitely was having that kind of lap on my last lap. I knew the trail and was feeling pretty decent and a couple of miles in I lapped and dropped the Montana rider. Jason finished us off and we took top honors.
After picking up camp and enjoying a drink with the team, I promptly crashed in a stupor in a lawn chair. I woke up a few minutes before the awards and wobbled over to where the podium was. For winning the fastest lap competition I got to put on a crown and mount the podium by myself, that was enjoyable. Our team won and got some nice Light and Motion lights. We cruised over to a burger joint where I had Ice Tea, Sweet Fries, and a BBQ Bacon Cheese Burger, all capitals. The drive home was no ridiculous marathon like West Virginia, but we did drive south of St. Paul before getting a room and it took lots of loud music and rolling the windows down and sticking my head out to wake up.
24 hours of 9 mile was a wonderful experience and just what we had been training hard for. 2 down and 1 to go. Moab in October, We Will Be Ready, all capitals. But first there is a good bit of local fun with RIM, Cruise the Blues, KC Cup, and more.
Love ya, Love your Show.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cramp Alexander Emporia, KS

I had not been to ride the trails in Emporia for quite some time so it was nice to have a good reason to get down there and see something new. JP Shores of Shores Sports picked Amber and I up in the morning to head south, it took us two tries to get the bikes secured on but we managed. It was a friendly crowd that gathered for the race and it sure was great seeing everyone. Gary, JP, and I rode a pre-lap, a mix of wooded trail-open grass pasture trail-and 3 miles of dirt roads. The start of the race came just before 12:30 and local shop owner Matt Brown was anxious to put the hurt on us. Matt has always been known for his raging starts, but mix that with his local trails and hang on. I was following Matt with Shadd following me. The first up hill I charged around Matt and went for all I was worth for the next two miles. That did not even dent Shadd at all, he came around me on the dirt roads and towed me around at what felt like 30 mph. Back in the singletrack I thought I was recovering some as we started lap 2 of 4. Back through the trails and out on the road and after a quick little drink Shadd ramped it back up and drug me around some more. We got back to the singletrack and I was in serious difficulty. Shadd was riding my legs off and I had horrible cramp in my side from trying to drink Cytomax with my heart rate off the charts. The start of lap three I came unplugged. Hopefully it was just all the intensity of the last three weeks attempting to get ready for 9 mile , but it was pretty discouraging that I could not get recovered and find some legs to enjoy riding the rest of the race. My only reprieve came from Marv, Matts Dad, getting me a cold bottle of water to start the final section of singletrack, that shot a little life into my legs. It always takes me a few moments of being grouchy after a crappy race to bring my mood back around but some Mexican food at Casa Ramos with good company and I was on my way up.
Thank you Leland, Bobby, Matt, Marv, and all the other people that helped put the race on. It sure is fun to drive an hour and a half to a great MTB race, please do it again.
So that pretty much set the tone for this week. Lots of recovery riding on the ticket and leave the upper register alone to see what I can manage in Wisconsin. More than enough work has been done I just got to trust that I can pull it together. Remember that Granny Gear will be posting the lap by lap updates and I will twitter away until my phone dies, hopefully it makes it longer than last time.
Keep enjoying your summer and keep riding bikes more. Talk at you when I get home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

MWFTS Springfield

I just got my computer back from a buddy who did some much needed maintenance, but it slowed me down on getting a weekend race report out to my faithful readers, Thank you all very much by the way for tuning in...
Sunday morning Travis, Steve, and myself headed south into the teeth of a rain storm that crashed into our car for the better part of an hour. We all remained upbeat despite the sheets of rain falling from the sky. A few minutes after I joked that I could see it breaking up on the horizon we shot out the other side and were headed towards sunshine and high temps. The turnout looked encouraging as we pulled into the venue and saw all the regulars milling about beginning their pre-race rituals, or whatever they were doing. Travis and I took an eventful pre ride with my getting stung by multiple bugs and him breaking a pedal with several miles to go. There are certain things that my pain tolerance is not particularly high and bug stings is certainly one of them, I complained an inordinate amount and pretty much told anyone that would listen how I got stung not once but twice.
It was a sweater by the time we got started at 12:30. The trails were groomed and were totally fun to ride. The course was basically backwards from the 12 hour I did there last year with some extra mileage thrown in. We were off and rather quickly a lead group of four formed with Chris Ploch, Aaron Elwell, Shadd Shriener, and myself. Chris lead for a lap and a half, we were at a semi race pace with all of us chatting and generally enjoying ourselves. The course had some many turns this way and that, that it was a bit defeating to try and go faster because that just meant more breaking and accelerating. Aaron had a pedal problem and it took him out of the pace line, then on lap two Shadd went around Chris and started putting the screws to us. After letting a few meters slip away I went around Chris and chased up to Shadd and we went into the final lap together. Shadd and I were both riding well and me not being known for my sprinting prowess decided I better go around and make a dig if I wanted to try and win. I passed Shadd at the top of one of the longer climbs which left us with two sizeable climbs and 3 or so miles of singletrack to the finish. As we were descending I got that feeling that makes your heart sink, flat tire time. I stopped and pulled out a thick piece of wire that jumped up and bit me. My first CO2 I shot straight in hopping Stans would fill the whole, no such luck. I put my tube in as Chris and Aaron passed by and I rode into the finish to claim fourth and lucky for me they were paying four deep. All in all it was pretty dang fun, and Steve won a Redline Monocog in the raffle afterwards. The race promoters did a wonderful job and deserve to be commended for their efforts cleaning the trails and making everything run efficiently.
Coming this weekend do not forget about Cramp Alexander in Emporia Kansas. All you need to know is here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Spin Pizza rides have been going awesome. We had over 40 riders this Monday night. We even got ourselves a little press going, Check us out! Do not forget Saturday morning from the Spin Pizza at Chipman and Pryor-meet at 9:15 and ride at 9:30.
Richard Lozoff and I before the ride. Gail and Richard have four Spin Pizza locations in the city, you need to get yourself on their mailing list because you can get some amazing discounts.