Tri-State 6 hr East Fork

***Sorry this never got finished or posted. I had wanted to add a lot more to the text, but just never got around to it. Now it is too far gone to fix.

The first race of the 6 hour series was last weekend. Actually it was supposed to be the second, but the first was rained out. I have been wanting to do this series since it started but things just have not worked out. The race was on Sunday so we headed out on Saturday to check out the trails. The trail system had a pretty good amount of rain the two days before this. That morning the trails were still listed as red, but I saw where a crew was going to do some trail work to get it ready. By the time we made it to the park, the trails were changed to a yellow status. We tried to figure out how the race was going to go since we had not been there before and headed out for a lap to check it out.

I was worried about how muddy we would get, but overall the trails were not that bad and our bikes were spared being covered in mud. I really didn’t want to mess up the trails or my bike the day before a race. Not really knowing where we were going we had to stop a couple times and look at a map to try and figure out what turns to make. The trails were overall pretty fun. They had a little bit of everything. Tight, rooty, rocky, flowy, technical sections and a couple climbs. The climbing was not as bad as I thought it would be, but there were a lot of other things that would wear a person out over 6 hours.

Having a good group of people to hang out with and ride with always makes things more fun. It would not have been nearly as fun if I was by myself. We also didn’t guess too bad on the route. There were only a few spots that we did something different than what the race did, but it was good to see everything that we did see. After the ride we changed and headed out for some food. We decided to check out 50 West Brewing. There was a big party going on across the street. The food was good and the beer was even better.

Morning came around pretty quickly. I tried to hurry up and eat and get ready then we headed to the venue. We were pretty early so we ended up with a great pit area. I tried to start out slow since it was going to be a long day. I felt like I did just that, but my times were a lot faster on the early laps. I was riding pretty well and consistent for the first few laps. Somewhere between the 3rd and 4th lap I hit bottom. I was pretty empty when I finished my 4th lap and took a break. I debated on not going out for my 5th lap, but after eating and drinking a few things I felt good enough again that I would mad at myself for not going. Off I went to complete just one more lap. That lap hurt, but I was sure glad I did it. I know I would have been disappointed if I didn’t go.

I didn’t finish at the top or anything, but overall was pretty happy with my first 6 hour race. I did 5 laps and finished 13th in the Men’s open and 41st overall. I’ll take that.

 

 

 

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Griffin Park Dino XC

I am foraging new areas with this race report and not really sure what to think about it. Let me start with the week leading up to this race. I was being asked if I was going to attend this race or not. I really didn’t have anything on the calendar that I could not miss that should keep me from racing this race. I typically am not really in to XC racing that much, so I did not have a huge desire to attend. I was leaning toward just staying home and putting in a long ride here. The week leading up to the race I was starting my 3rd week in a row of feeling sick. I was still riding, but coughing and over all just feeling run down.

My arm continued to get twisted about attending. It turns out that several team members were going to be able to make it to this race. We have not really had that many people be able to make it to the same place very often over the last couple years, so I agreed to go along. I didn’t expect to do very well and I was really good with that. It was going to be more about hanging out with friends and riding my bike. This mentality had me doing some things that I normally would not have done before a race. There was supposed to be a soccer tournament the two days before. There was a lot of rain that came in and they had to post pone the tournament to the next week. This allowed me to join a couple other friends on a ride Saturday morning.

This ride was not typically what I think I should do the day before a race. We did a 43 mile gravel ride that had a fair amount of climbing. I knew it was going to be a pretty big ride, but like I said above I was not overly concerned about finishing well at the race. We had a great ride! I tried to not go too hard on the climbs just so I didn’t completely destroy myself. After the ride I tried to do a few things to make sure and recover and re-hydrate, but did allow myself to have a couple beers too. Later that night my legs were hurting and borderline cramping while I was sitting on the couch. It was not looking very promising that I would have much for Sunday.

Sunday morning came much earlier than I wanted it to. I got ready and headed over to the meeting place and we loaded up the team trailer. Down the road we went to Griffin Bike Park. We made it there with plenty of time left before the race. It was not as early as we wanted, but it was just fine. We all signed up and got ready to go warm up. I had never been there before. I figured that the one person who did know the trail would lead us in the right direction of a sample of the trail to warm up on.

After a few miles I realized that me and Kade were all alone. Neither one of us had any idea where we were or where to take any short cuts to head back. The trail was not that long and I knew we should have enough time to finish the lap, but that was not my plan at all. When we finished the lap we rolled up to the car with about 12 min before the start of the race. I grabbed what I wanted for the race and tried to eat and drink a little then headed to the start.

I really am in there somewhere

I didn’t really plan it, but when we rolled up to the line from the dashed line, I found myself in the second row. I was not too worried about it as I was not really sure how the legs would be. There was also a long road section before we turned in to the woods. We took off fairly fast. At first it was not bad, but then the road was getting longer than I wanted it to be. I backed off my pace a little so I didn’t completely blow myself up before we even hit the woods. I noticed that there seemed to be a little gap behind me so it was all good.

I went in to the woods somewhere a little above the top 10 I think. It was hard to tell and I didn’t want to slide out on the 180 degree turn in to the woods. I was a little worried about this first section since it had some tight corners and some short up and downs. I figured if the group was all bunched up and everyone slowed a little at the top of the hills, it could turn in to a bad pile up on the face of the hill. That would not be good at all. Luckily it was not too bad and I tried to keep enough room in front of me where I thought the issue would be worse.

I made a few passes here and there where it worked out. I could also make some moves on the open gravel section that went by the finish line. Somewhere in this lap I came up on Tristin and followed him for a while. At some point he dropped me. I kept going as best that I could. I was happy with how the legs were working. Somewhere late in the first lap I found myself behind JJ. I figured that I probably was not doing too bad as I had noticed him toward the top of the finishers lists on some of the other Dino races. I was content being where I was and just stayed with that group. At some point it ended up just being the two of us as we started the second lap.

I felt like we were not rolling along too bad. I expected to be working harder than I was, but was happy with where I was and stayed there. Next thing I knew Barry came up on us pretty quick and on one of the more technical little climbs he went flying by us on the other side of the trail. We both followed him for a little while. This is the point that my day changed a little. Barry had asked if he was holding us up and if we wanted by. JJ declined and said we were good. It was then when Barry asked where we were sitting. When the reply was 2nd and 3rd I just about crapped myself. I knew I had passed a few people, but I never expected to be that far up. It gets a little confusing on where you are after the different age groups get mixed up. It had been a very long time since I had been in this situation. It was back in the 90’s when I frequently found myself near the front of the Sport class. Every since getting back in to racing I had just been pack filler.

At this point I could not have been any happier. My legs were feeling a lot better than I could have ever expected after what I did the day before and with my warm up ride. I figured all I needed to do was try to hang on and maybe be able to make a run for the position at the finish. I was not sure if Barry was in our class or not, but he dropped us anyway. Now I was potentially going to have to sprint it out for a 3rd place finish. I was hoping that he was in the 50+ class, but I was not sure. I just wanted to keep an eye out behind me to make sure no one was catching us and possibly loose another position. Somewhere in there we caught back up with Tristin and rode with him.

We had moments where we were really moving out. Overall the legs were feeling pretty good, but had moments where it felt like they might be working on cramping soon. I downed a Honey Stinger gel and took in some big drinks. In no time those feelings went away. I am not sure where it happened, but JJ was taking a turn at the front and I ended up passing Tristin. Not sure where he fell off, but it was back to just the two of us.

Somewhere in the third lap another rider came up on us before I knew it. He asked to pass, but right then there was not really a good place. In just a little bit I knew we would be hitting one of the double track sections and there was no need to move over in a dangerous spot. I knew as soon as we hit the double track he would be making his move. I didn’t want to risk loosing any more positions so when he went, I jumped on his wheel. We flew down that section and back in to the woods. I kept on his wheel the best that I could. There were not too many spots that I really felt like he was going too slow.

We crossed the parking lot section where the start turned in and where we were parked. I was wearing down and getting worried I would run out of gas. So, I finally asked the question, what class are you in? He said 50+, how about you? I said 40 and he replied, oh thank god. That means we won’t have to sprint it out at the line. LOL we were both hoping that. I am not sure if it was the release of the stress or what, but right after that I started to feel a little stronger. He had just asked if I needed by and I didn’t think I wanted to at that point. A corner later I was kind of thinking I should have passed, but at that point it was all good. I just didn’t want JJ to catch back up to us and kept looking back as the trails crisscrossed. We went hard when we hit the gravel, but I didn’t have enough to pass him and I was ok with that.

Well it turned out that I ended up in 2nd and was able to stand on the podium. It felt awesome to be able to have such a great ride and then have the best MTB result that I have had in probably 20 years or more. It is great to finally feel like all the work I had been putting actually making a difference. I know I have not done everything that I need to or even had planned, but I have been doing more than previous years and it may just be starting to add up. Now I just hope to keep moving forward.

Now for the what if’s that I just can’t keep out of my head. It is really hard to talk myself in to some things when I really didn’t expect to be somewhere to begin with. There are a lot of things leading up to this race that had me thinking I would not do very well, even for my normal finishes. I had been sick for 3 weeks and just barely getting over it. I had rode some in that time, but had some days that I really struggled and was really run down and wore out. Then I look at the ride I did the day before. This was not what I would call a good idea the day before a race. Not enough sleep the two nights leading up to the race and then that much longer warm up ride than I had planned. Any and all of those things should have kept me from having a good race. So, how did it go so right?

The other side of the second guessing myself is what would have happened if I would have pushed forward and made a couple passes that I didn’t make? The guy who won the race was only 1 minute ahead of me. Could I have made up that time? Would I have blown up and fell apart? I will never know. Part of me thinks I did so well because I didn’t make a couple passes. When I was on someones wheel and I was able to rest a little, it could be the whole reason I was as strong. After being stick and everything else, I am not going to beat myself up much wondering about the what if’s. I am just very happy to finally have a good result. I just need to keep doing what I have been doing and working on improving. Maybe someday I will feel good enough about myself to go back to Cat 1 or even race Sport Open. My real goal is to be able to do better at the longer races. I feel like I am getting closer, so maybe one day I’ll be “there”.

Posted in Bikes, DINO, Dino Series, Mountain Biking, mtb, Racing, racing, Team Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2017 Big Frog 65

I had some time to write this after I returned home from the race, but I was trying to not get in too much of a hurry. I was really not sure what I wanted to write and I wanted to give myself some time to let everything sink in and what it really means to me. I’m still not clear on how or what I feel about this years race. I know, I know. I keep getting told this or that and that I’m too hard on myself. Who else can be my worst critic but me?

A fun group to ride with at any time. Spirits were still high for me at the pre-ride

We made it to the whitewater center fairly early Friday. Took care of getting checked in and dropping off our drop bags. Some of the group we were expecting showed up and next thing I knew several people were ready to ride. I thought we were waiting on the rest, but the ants in the pants could not sit still long enough. We did the same ride that we did last year. Head up the road and do the first part of the race to the bridge. It was long enough to get a fair ride in and get the legs moving.

We then headed to our home for the weekend. We stayed in a really nice cabin that was not much more than 10 minutes from the start. We cleaned our bikes up and got them ready. Then we headed out to meet up with some others for dinner. We had a lot of laughs and the food was good enough. I way trying to minimize the amount of beers I drank and to make sure and drink plenty of water. I feel like I did fairly well on the water, but hard telling if I really did good enough.

Bikes all ready to race. Hanging out on our awesome deck.

After getting back to the cabin, most of us were busy getting things ready for the next morning and hanging out a little before going to bed early. We had to leave earlier than everyone else since we had a 100 miler in the group. As usual morning came pretty quick and I set to getting ready. I ate what I had planned and was ready to go in time and we headed to the start. I went and watched the 100 milers take off before getting the rest of the way ready to go. Before I knew it time came come to get up to the start line. I was really hoping I remembered to pack everything I had planned

After a few words and a prayer, the race was off. Up the long road to warm up. I tried to not go too hard and to really keep an eye on my heart rate. I figured I could easily blow myself up in the first 3 miles. I felt like I was going too easy, but convinced myself to not go too much harder. The top of the hill came up and we turned in to the woods. I felt like I did a good job with my pacing. I made a few passes on some riders that seemed to be going slower than I wanted. I was then stuck behind a few riders that had moments we were going too slow. There was starting to be a few people behind me and I heard some grumbling. I found a good place to pass and moved up to find the next group.

I kept looking at my heart rate and it was staying in the range that I wanted it to be. I was feeling pretty good and pretty happy about my game plan so far. As I rolled in to the first aid station I had to pee. Took care of business and topped off my one water bottle. I knew it was going to be a hot day and didn’t want to run out of water. I saw Lovins come in to the rest stop and keep going. I took off right after and soon enough I made my way up to him. Shortly after joining him we both joined Cooper. The three of us rolled together to the 3/4 aid station skipping the 2nd stop.

At this point I tried to eat, drink and take care of myself. I was feeling pretty good at this point. I was ready to take off, but not everyone was done so I waited a little bit so we could all start together. As we did this loop section I started to feel my legs some on the first climb. It was 3+ hours in to the ride, so it was not a complete shock. I backed off a little and tried to find a pace that worked for me. Cooper was riding really strong and was pulling off the front. Lovins was not dropping too far behind him, but the both of them were leaving me pretty easily. In hind sight, I could have done either of these two things. I could have left when I was ready and they would have caught me or I really should have taken more stuff in at that point so I would not have faded as much. It is really hard to say what would have been better.

The second climb in this section was very tough for me. It is a pretty good climb and it seemed like the trees were not blocking any of the sun. I felt like I was in a convection oven. I was really feeling cooked. I tried to keep eating and drinking, but I am pretty sure it was too late. I already let too much of a gap in the cycle somewhere and now I was going to pay for it. I kept moving, but at a slower pace than I wanted. This section really seems to drag on and even worse when you start feeling bad. I was very hot and could not cool down.

Eventually I rolled back in to the 3/4 aid station. Feeling more tired than I wanted to and starting to feel like my legs wanted to cramp. I saw Cooper here, but he was getting ready to take off. He said I would catch him, but I knew better. I took a little more time here and tried to take in stuff that would help me snap back. My brain was not doing too good at this point. I was already feeling defeated as I knew I was going slower than I wanted. I was already disappointed that I was not going to make the finishing time I had hoped.

I really don’t know what was wrong with my brain, but I sure didn’t do several things that I should have done. Example, I didn’t even get in my drop bag. I had several things in there that might have made a difference, but decided against it. I didn’t really look at what was on the table to eat either. I had already put failure in to motion and I was doing everything I could to make sure it was going to happen.

The climb back out of 3/4 is always tough. I had moments where I could jump on a wheel and pick the pace up. I felt pretty good at those points, but I could never hang on long enough. Eventually I would get dropped on one of the inclines. This section drug on for a long time. It is hard to tell what was before or after the rest stop at the bottom since I have never stopped there. You are rolling along too good to worry about stopping. I eventually saw a few landmarks that were familiar and knew I was going to be at the last aid station soon.

I rolled in to there and topped off my bottle. I looked around at what I could take in. I really don’t remember if I ate much or not. I had already lost my crap pills out of my pocket and should have picked something up that would have helped. At this point I had no idea where my brain was. I know what I needed to do, but I just kind of looked around and stuff and didn’t eat what I needed to. I was just ready to get done and thought this was the home stretch. I didn’t want to stand around too long so I took off. There was a lady who was rolling pretty good that went in to the woods a little before me. Not too far down the trail she was coming back. She thought she was going the wrong way. I assured her that this was the correct way and yes we were on this part before. She turned back around and followed me a little bit. I was hurting so I eventually let her pass. There was a couple other riders around me that I felt like needed around but at times they wanted behind me. A little farther down the trail I saw that same lady sitting on the side of the trail looking at a map. I guess she didn’t believe me or all the other people that were riding by her.

This section went on forever!! I was doing pretty good when the trail was flat or doing down hill, but the inclines were hurting. There were times I could put enough power down to flow through the rollers and other times I was just creeping along. I made a friend in this section, but not sure he knew it. We never really spoke much. He was a singlespeeder and we had different points that we were fast at. I knew what boat he was in and let him by when I thought it would help him. He returned the favor when I was going faster. It was really nice to run in to a familiar face so often. I have no idea who he is, but he made this section a little better. Every time I thought we were far enough apart that we would not see each other, they we were. Eventually the rubber band broke and I pulled away for the last time.

I kept thinking I could hear the road and it should be right around the corner, but then the sounds would disappear and more trail was to be had. I did not remember much of this section because last year I was in the same situation and just going along in survival mode. My legs were really cramping at this point. I was drinking often, but it didn’t seem to help. The only good thing was that most of the time when they were cramping, I could still turn the pedals over and keep moving. I have not had that happen as much to be before. I have done it for a short time, but there was a lot of time in this section that my legs were locking up, but kept moving. Eventually I heard the road again and came out on to the gravel section. I knew this was finally the section that I wanted. I crossed the bridge and headed down the high way toward the finish line. I was getting there, but I was still going pretty slow and felt like I could have fell over at any point.

I finished with a time of 7:35 and in 72nd place in open male. 114th place over all out of all Big Frog racers. After picking up my mug I rolled back to the van. I tried to sit down to take my shoes off, but as soon as I did that, both legs completely locked up tighter than I could ever remember. I jumped up and tried to find a position that was less painful. It was not easy and took me a little bit before I could move again. Of course I could hear all the peanut gallery making fun of me, but I was not in a joking mood right then. I have to say that at that moment, that was the most painful cramps that I could ever remember. It was not just one part of my leg, but both legs were full on. I had lots of funny shapes sticking out of different parts of my legs and they were moving.

It took me a long time before I could get most of my gear off and actually be able to sit there. I still kept having cramps just about any time I tried to move. I took a drink of water and really thought I was going to throw up. I eventually could make my way over to the creek and put my legs in the water. I remember that water always being so cold. This time I felt nothing. It felt like it was just warm water. I really don’t know if the water was warm or it was that my core was so hot and my legs were in so much pain I just could not tell. I then slowly made it back to the van. Everyone else was ready to go since they had all been done a while. We went back to the cabin, took a shower and headed out to eat. I was the entertainment for the evening with all the moans and groans and me jumping up with out warning trying to work out a cramp. This went on for the rest of the night. I had a hard time eating a lot even though I was hungry. My body was just not wanting anything to do with anything.

So, now for me to be Eore and my negative thinking. No matter what anyone has said to me, I can not walk away from this race with out thinking it was a complete failure. Yes I finished. Yes my body gave everything it had, but it is still a failure. I have thought a lot about this and tried to look at different angles to try and make myself think differently. Out of everything I can only find a couple things that are on the positive side. First of all I finished and did not end up in the hospital like another person in the cabin did. My finishing places of 72nd/114th is a lot better than last years 111th in class and 182nd overall. Other than that I failed at everything else. Yes that may be a bit harsh, but I feel it is the truth.

I trained a lot harder this year than last year. I am currently in the best shape that I can ever remember being in. I went in to this racing thinking that a finishing time of 6 hours should be doable. Even with the winning time being a half hour slower that would only put me at 6:30 and not 7:35. The kicker for me is that not only did I not make the time that I had hoped for, but I actually finished slower than last year and just to say I finished, is not good enough to me. I have proved several times before that cramping or exhausted I somehow keep moving and will finish if at all possible.

So as I said before, I completely failed on this one. I failed at being hydrated enough before the race. I failed at eating and drinking enough early in the race. I failed at doing things that should have helped me even after I already made several mistakes. I have done enough races wrong that by now I should not be making some of these same mistakes. Even not being as fast as a lot of other people, I know a lot of things that I need to do to make me as fast as I can. I am not doing enough of those things. I am doing a lot of things better than I did in the past, but that is really just a waste if I don’t do the rest of it. I have proven to myself that I can currently ride fairly good for 3.5-4 hours no matter how much I try to sabotage myself. I need to quit letting myself down in those 3.5 hours so I can help myself get through the rest of the race stronger.

So, yes I can be pretty hard on myself, but I feel like I should be. It is all my fault that I do as bad as I do. I have no one else to blame but myself. I have a really good support crew that tries hard to help put me in the position to do well. I feel like not only do I let myself down, but I also let them down too. It is bad enough to be self destructive, but it hurts even more when I let everyone else down.

I want to thank all the volunteers that spent all day out there helping all the racers. There are lots of thankless hours that go in to making a race like this happen. I want to thank everyone that is part of my cycling world. There are a lot of people that I share the road or trail with that play a big part of me pushing myself to be stronger and faster. I want to thank my core group of friends that share all these adventures with me and help me laugh all the time. You make all of this worth it. I have to thank Phil @ Adventure’s for everything you do for me. You go way above and beyond anything I could have ever expected. Last but not least I have to thank Becky my lovely wife. With out your support I would not be able to ride as much as I do and travel to these races. Thank you all!

Posted in Bikes, Mountain Biking, mtb, Racing, racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dirty South Roubaix 100k

The Dirty South Roubaix was on my radar since I first saw it posted. It was a little farther away than I wanted to drive by myself to and from on the same day. I also have a full enough calendar that I really didn’t want to spend for another hotel room. When I found out that one of my teammates was making the trip, it was a no brainer. It would be a fairly early morning, but the race is in a different time zone to help with that. The drive over went well and we found ourselves behind the Bushong van as we got close to the start.

Photo Credit: Tammy Bushong

We checked in and started getting ready. I was not as prepared as I needed to be on a couple bike things and I also took a long time trying to figure out what to wear. It was supposed to get fairly warm, but it was much colder getting ready than I expected. I just ran with my decision on clothes and hoped for the best. I figured I would not always be warm enough, but hopefully not too cold for too long. Before I knew it, I was needing to grab my things and line up. This was the first year for this race and I was pretty surprised as how many people were there. I really think that if this race was not the same weekend as Southern Cross, it would have been even more people there.

After a few words by the promoter, we were going down the road for a neutral start. I was not trying to be too far to the front. I didn’t really expect the legs to show up good enough to be there. But, there were a few small inclines as we rolled along and several people were slowing down more than I wanted and I found my way back toward first group on the road. The pace car pulled away and I kind of expected it to just go crazy. The guys at the front may have picked the pace up, but it was not a full blown attack. I was able to hang out with some riders and work on warming the legs up.

Photo Credit: Marcus Janzow

After a  couple hills, up and down and then the first part of gravel, I found myself in some company that I am not used to being in. I was riding in the pack that Bushong was riding in. That typically has made me wonder if I was going too hard. I was feeling good and tried to make sure that I was not over cooking it too early. I hung around in that area for a little while, but eventually he pulled away on a climb. It was early and I was still not sure if I was going too hard or not, so I just settled in at a comfortable pace and climbed away. The first big switch back type climb was pretty long. There were areas that I though we were at the top only to find myself climbing again. I will say there were several sections that if I had a camera with me, it would have been very easy for me to pull over and take some pictures. It was a very pretty area.

When I was on the rollers at the top a rider that was wearing the Saint Nichols Brewing Company team kit. I knew he had to be local and knew the roads. I pushed a little harder in areas that I would not have because of him.This was a very good thing. It let me keep the pace up and climb hills faster than I would have not knowing just how long they were or weren’t. I let everything hang out on the main down hill on this section. Apparently it was going well. Strava had me in 4th place overall on this section, well at least against the riders who are on Strava.

Toward the end of this section I was taking a turn up front. He said the road section would be soon and we should try to bridge the gap up to the riders in front of us. So, I picked it up a little and pulled them in. I found Bushong in this group. Most of this group stayed together for the road section and the beginning of the levee. Zach from Hashtag bikes joined us on the levee. This part was the hardest section of the ride. It was basically flat, but the wind made it very painful. The group started to splinter and soon enough I too was spit off the back. Zach and Bushong were putting in just a little too much power for me and knew we still had a long way to go.

I was stuck along for a little while, but eventually another rider who was part of the group at the beginning of the levee, rejoined me. Together we took turns trying to finish this section up. At one point we turned left and the cross wind was so hard I thought I was going to be blown off of the levee. I was leaning to the right very hard just to stay on the path. I was very happy when this section finally ended. But, it didn’t take too much down the road that we were climbing a steep and loose section of climbs. I was really feeling the effects of the levee and just tried to keep moving forward.

Photo Credit: Marcus Janzow

Overall this section was really nice and scenic, but there was some sections of chunky gravel that also made it interesting. Eventually we came down another fast and fun but chunky down hill. There was another guy near me that was all excited about how crazy that hill was and then all of a sudden, his tire was loosing air. It really didn’t not shock me after what we just went down. I was thankful that I was tubeless and managed to stay aired up for that section. Not too far after this, I was spit out on to another road section. I was out there by myself for this whole section. I didn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me. I was told that this was a tail wind section, but I sure didn’t feel it. I just did what I could to keep the pedals turning and moving forward. It is easy to sit up or stop and eat up a lot of time. The legs were feeling it and I kept eating and drinking to keep fueled up. I guess I did a pretty good job of this as I kept riding better than expected.

Photo Credit: Matt Gholson

After we crossed back over the levee section we took a right to head back toward the finish line. As I turned the back wheel slid out on me. I knew right away that it was flat or really close. I stopped and checked it. I put some air in it and got back on. it did a pretty good job for a while. The tire kept loosing a little air and I could tell it was lower pressure than what I prefer. I tried to take it easy on it, but shorty after the creek crossing in the picture above, it was low enough that I needed to stop again. I put some more air in it. At this point my teammate Lovins pulled up. He wanted to make sure I had everything I needed. I guess he saw me stop the first time to put air in it, but just could not quite catch me. If I would have looked back, I probably would have eased up so we could join forces.

The tire held for the rest of the race, but it was not at the pressure I wanted it to be. I kept waiting for it to go flat again, but managed to hold on. I heard about a huge climb at the finish. The legs were really tired, but I was ready to be done. I was surprised at the pace that I was climbing the last hill and was just waiting for the point that my legs give up. Maybe the power of the finish line was pulling me through. I powered up the last climb and rolled across the line. I finished in 4:17 and ended up in 5th place in the sport class. I was very happy with my effort and how well I rode. I was also very happy with 5th place, but that back part of the brain does wonder what would have happened if the tire didn’t start to loose air. I do not think I had enough in the legs to catch 3rd place and get on the podium, but I know I would have been close. Maybe next time!!

For a first time event these guys did a great job!! The course was marked very well and there were volunteers at most of the intersections just to make sure people didn’t go the wrong way. The roads were very enjoyable. This is an area that I could go ride just for fun. I may have to schedule a long weekend down that way. Thanks to all the volunteers and everyone that made this race possible. Thanks to my teammate Lovins for being like minded and helping twist my arm to make the trip. This is on my to do list for next year. I really hope my schedule works out so I can make it.

Here is a video by Zach Andrews of the first 1.5 hours of the race. I get a lot of coverage near the end when we are riding together on the levee section.

 

Posted in Gravel, gravel, Racing, racing, Team Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2017 Snake Creek Gap TT #2

This was the second year that I made the trip down to Dalton to race The Snake. This year was the first time that I was going to race the same distance both times. If you read my last post, then you know that the first race was shortened because of the weather. But, anyone who finished would get credit for finishing the race in their class. Last weekend I headed back for the second race in the series. The good news was that the weather was supposed to be a lot nicer than the first race. Not just less ice and snow that we could actually race the full distance, it was going to be pretty nice.

One problem with the weather being nicer is that I had been riding in colder weather and not used to knowing what to put on. I am not very good about keeping track of what I am wearing per how the weather is. I had a new kit that I really wanted to wear. Another issue I was having was that this new kit looked like the jersey was a little thinner than what the old ones were. This makes it hard to know how much difference it would make. With the start being at a different parking lot then the finish, I also had to try and make some decisions before we left. I made some last minute changes of putting on a second under shirt. I also put on knee and arm warmers.

Once we got to the start we unloaded and started to get ready. The stress was a little high as expected. This was going to be a big day and a lot of things can happen. Just when I thought I was ready and getting ready to roll around a little, my first complication of the day showed up. I was a little rushed at the hotel and I could not take care of all of my pre-race prep. Normally this is just an inconvenience, but looking at the bathroom line it was a lot more than just an inconvenience. So, I make a quick decision to head to the woods. As I roll up to the jeep, something happens and I land on my seat a little hard and pop, the seat moves. Great!!! So, I dug around trying to get the tools needed and then leveled the seat out. So, back to the last task at hand…………..

I then rushed back to the jeep and headed to the start line. I saw some of my group and worked my way up to them and hung out waiting for my place in line to be started. Soon enough I was shuffled up to the guy yelling out race numbers to the time keeper. He says go and then says wait. I was like what?? am I supposed to go or what? The timing guy said go ahead. I joked that there when 3 finish spots. Like I really thought it would matter.

Off I go in to this new trail section that I have not rode before. it was supposed to be nice and flowy, so I did not want to get too carried away and over do the first 17 miles as the next 34 would be tough enough with out blowing myself up. It didn’t take long before I found myself behind Abby from Wood-N-wave who I met the night before. It felt like I was going too slow, but I figured that was just me being too pumped up. So, I made sure and just sat there for a little while. Eventually I made my way by and said good luck.

Not too far down the trail I found myself coming up on Hutch and a train of riders. As we worked past a couple people we found ourselves rolling up on Team People’s bearded powerhouse and Kayla (She Shreds) in front of him. If I was catching him, I figured I was starting way too hard. Then I could tell he was really trying to pace himself so he didn’t over do it in this section too. So, maybe I was not doing too bad. Eventually he pulled away and Kayla ended up behind us. We stayed that way for a little while with a few other riders in tow. Hutch was setting an awesome pace. I figured that she was going to have a finishing time that I would be very happy with, so there was no need to pass her. I figured any extra effort that she was not putting in would only hurt me later.

We rode this way for a while. There was a little time that I did end up in front and went back and forth with a few of the other riders in the pack. As we went up the big climb before the Snake Creek gap parking lot, the legs felt like they were going to cramp. I backed the pack off hoping to keep that from happening and she rolled away from me. I came in to the parking lot rest area hurting pretty good. It was not easy to roll past the unsanctioned rest stop that had beer and whisky. I figured a beer would make my day end up badly. I rolled over to the sag tent and grabbed everything I felt I needed. I ate some Cliff products that were being handed out. I topped off my bottles and took off up the very long climb before my legs decided to take a break.

I took it easy up the hill as I knew it was a long one and with my legs feeling heaving I really didn’t want to cramp. i saw some more familiar faces as they passed me, but I did’t panic and just did what I felt I needed to. My bail out gear on my 1×11 is really nice for some things, but when I am in it I go pretty slow. Maybe shifting in to a bigger gear would have been good, but I will never know. When I did get to the top of the climb and started the next section the legs started to feel better. I had some highs and lows for this part all the way up to the water stop at the top of the road climb. I downed some mustard and went on my way.

I did pretty well for the next section. Legs were feeling better and it allowed my to ride a lot of the rock sections.  I just tried to keep moving, eating and drinking. It is crazy, but I kept wishing the wall was around the next corner. I really didn’t want to go up it, but I was ready to get it over with. Eventually the wall came  and I started walking. With the legs wanting to cramp and also being wore out, I didn’t ride as much as I did before. After what seemed like 3 hours I thought I was finally over the wall. I thought at this point that I had a little rock section to go and then the radio tower would be there soon enough. Well, this little bit really dragged on for every. I didn’t remember there being that much after the wall. Part of the issue could be that at this point, my legs were locking up and keeping me from doing much. The cramps would come and go. When I could ride, I felt like I was still moving pretty well, but when my legs were locked up I was a snail.

Eventually I saw the radio tower. I could not have been happier. I knew it was all down hill from here. I dropped the hammer the best I could and let it rip on the down hills and made fairly short work of the last section. As I came around the corner and saw the finish line tent, I was ecstatic. I safely made the turn in to the parking lot and here was the group cheering me on. Jeff yelled for me to do a wheelie and even with my legs about ready to fall off, the next thing I know I was pulling up to ride one. Riding a wheelie at the finish line can be tricky. It is even harder after putting in the effort that I had to put in to get this far. I didn’t want to pull up crooked or if I did pull it up straight, I didn’t want to loop out. I was very happy when I pulled up an perfect wheelie and rode it way longer than I thought I had the energy for. I think this was one of things in the ride that I was the most happy about. Very little beats a good finish line wheelie.

I rolled across the line in 6:13 and ended up finishing in 15th place in the 40-49 class . My goal was to finish in 6 hours. I was not really thinking that I could get to 6 or even under so I really am happy with my time. But that does not mean that I don’t keep thinking what if. I am super happy with the first 4 hours of the race. After that is where I started to put more effort in being able to finish as strong as I could and not just riding/racing. Typically I am the blame for my cramps or issues. I have a bad habit of not eating or drinking enough. Maybe I still didn’t do enough of either or both, but I felt like I was doing a good job of taking in enough.

After thinking about it a little, I think maybe my issue was just not training hard enough. The cramps were along the inside of my thigh. I am not used to having cramps there as they are normally the calves or the hamstrings. I think all of the standing and pumping I did trying to ride everything was using muscles that I didn’t work out enough before. Too many of my miles were put in riding gravel and not enough actual mtb riding where I need to stand up. I may be way off on this, but it seems to make some sense to me.

After the race we all headed to Cherokee Brewing for some awesome pizza and beer. Good times were had and we even helped a local named Eric celebrate his birthday and he shared his cake with us. It was interesting to say the least, but we had a great time. I would recommend checking that place out if you are in the area. We moved the after party back to the hotel and continued to have a lot of laughs and good times. I keep saying that the hanging out before/after the actual race is why I keep coming back. it just makes the trip all worth it. Laughter is good for the soul and with this group it is easy to come by.

Thanks to Kayla for this great picture

I though it was just the beer talking, but apparently all the talk about riding the next day was really a thing. The next morning I was still a little in denial about the fact that we were really going to go ride. I didn’t get near enough sleep, but I was up and moving like it or not. We loaded up and headed to Booker T State park. We met up with the girls and we all went for a ride. I was very tired, but was riding better than I thought I would. It didn’t take time before the climbs were getting slower, but I was still going. The weather was over 70 degrees in February, so how could I not be out riding. The only bad thing about it was that it made the drive home seem longer than normal.

I want to thank the staff that puts on this race every year. There are a lot of people that put in a lot of hard work . I also want to thank everyone who helped make this weekend work out as good as it did and as fun as it was. Phil at Adventure’s Recreation for helping me get my Scott Scale. This bike is a blast to ride and much lighter than what I was riding. Thanks to ESI Grips for having the best grips on the market. Stan’s NoTubes for helping me keep from having a flat tire with all of the rocks I bounced off of all day. Honey Stinger for helping keep me fueled up with some great tasting energy products. Handup Gloves for keeping my hand happy. I want to thank my wife for all the hard work she has to do while I am gone for the weekend racing and while I am out putting in all of my training rides. She pushes me to get out and keep getting better. I can not ask for a better support team. And of course I have to thank my travel partners. With out you I would have to laugh at my own jokes and we all know that is not a good thing.

Sorry for the book. See you next time 🙂

Posted in Bikes, hills, Mountain Biking, mtb, Racing, racing, Team Adventures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment