Thursday, December 3, 2009

It Must be Time for the Superbowl...

Written Jan. 28, 2009

I don’t watch football, heck I don’t even know who is playing in the big game. So, how do I know that the Superbowl must be near? Well, for the past four years I have become ill within days of the big game. I woke up this morning just as sick as a dog and wouldn’t you know it, the game’s right around the corner! It’s almost like clock work at this point…. Odd.

Oh well though, I would much rather get it out of the way now than become sick later in the season. And, on the bright side I was able to race 12 in Temecula this year whereas last year I got sick the week prior to the race rather than the week following the race. Nice.

I have also noted over the last couple of years that there seems to be a crazy weekend of weather every September, that it’s probably going to rain on my birthday ride, and that New Year’s Day rides sound a lot more fun than they usually end up being =)

So, I know it’s only January, but I’m am already thinking about a ride which I would like to complete some time this summer when the days are particularly long. I set out to complete this ride at some point last year, but the sun was already setting between five and six pm and I had no idea how long the ride was going to take. I cut it way short and still got home around seven. I don’t like having to take short cuts or not completing what I set out to do and I did have a light with me, so I certainly contemplated continuing onward with the route I had originally planned… But the more I thought about it, the more dangerous it began to sound. I knew it didn’t make any sense, that wasn’t up for debate. When things begin to sound legitimately dangerous though, that’s when I start to think a little rationally.

Here’s the ride: I left from Roseville and went over to Folsom, but the ride could be started anywhere in the area I suppose. From Folsom I headed up green valley, took malcom dixon, then deer springs? I think it’s called. I didn’t take the Jergens cut accross because I knew this was going to be quite the ride as it was and I wanted to spend more time riding stuff I’d never seen rather than adding unnecessary pieces of road which had been previously traversed. So I looped back around to Green Valley again and then continued to follow it up to Placerville. From Placerville I jumped on 49, then took the 193 down into the canyon. I had never ridden this road before and I was extremely pleased with the descent as well as the climb back out of the canyon which followed. I climbed and climbed and climbed and then took a right on a little side street which was shown as being a through road on whichever map program I had looked at that morning while eating my cereal…. I was irritated to find that the road turned to dirt and that many of the smaller dirt roads which turned off were not labeled with street names. In hindsight, it seems silly to have expected this detour to have gone through to where I expected and to have assumed that the road would be in good condtition. I should have thought seriously about the area that I was in (nearly Georgetown) and realized that the hwy was the best bet. After riding for what seemed like forever down this po dunk dirt road, I finally popped back out on the hwy. Dangit! Not only had I not ended up in Georgetown where I had intended to pop out, I had actually looped back around and found the hwy once again about 3 miles down the road from where I had originally turned off! Talk about some ineffecient navigation. Oh well, at least I knew once again where I was.

After riding the next three miles of hwy for the second time that day, I continued onward past the ’shortcut’ street and rode 193 into Georgetown. I took a right on Main St and headed out into the middle of nowhere. I knew I was headed into the middle of nowhere though and so I stopped to buy some nutrition at the local market and fill the bottles before my excursion. I had packed some food for the day before I left home, but I knew I was going to want a couple of bars just in case things got out of hand further up the road. The little store had a $5 minimum limit for using a card. The lady working at the register also had no idea how much Clif bars cost, I’m assuming because they probably hadn’t sold one in a number of years…. This was good and bad. It was good because she only charged me $1 for each bar. It was bad because I really only wanted two and really only had space to carry two as well. It must have been a little chilly because my pockets were crammed full of stripped off clothing. I think I had learned a little from prior crappy weather rides at this point too and I had packed a jacket knowing full well that I was probably going to be returning after sun down. Oh, I had my light too. I will not put a light on my bars until it gets dark. I won’t do it. So, I carry it with me in my pocket all day long and install it just before sunset. Anyway, space was limited and I now had five bars to stash somewhere. I remembered reading that you could stick bars to your toptube for easy access. Maybe you can with some types of processed energy sticks, but not the ones I’d purchased.

If memory serves me correctly, I think I ate a one, tried to stick one to my stem, stowed the others and set off towards the great unknown. If you stay on Main st out of Georgetown it becomes Whentworth Springs Road, which according to the map will eventually become Ice House Road and loop back down to Hwy 50. My plan was to follow this road all the way to hwy 50, then ride various surface streets back down through Sly park, pollock pines, then eventually back into Placerville and be home free from there. They were kind enough to put mileage signs on this back country road to let you know how far you were away from this or that place as appearantly there were places which were considered destinations and could be reached by traveling wentworth springs. The first of these signs listed places which were not too distant, 8 miles, 11 miles, etc. It was when I reached that first 8 mile destination that a new sign listing places wich were 40+ miles distant that I bega second guessing the completion of this little epic voyage. I didn’t recognize any of the places being named on these mileage signs, places like ‘Uncle Tom’s’ and what not really let me know that I was out in the sticks. It worried me that a place as insignificant as Uncle Tom’s would be listed and yet there was no mention of something somewhat important like Interstate 50. How freakin far away could the freeway be? I rode on another 3 miles, 2 of which was a steady 11% grade (according to the sign coming down) before stopping at a Mosquito Road which I remembered would eventually bring me back to hwy 193 or could take me all the way back to placerville if I found the right turns…. Apearantly my detour from earlier in the day had not yet sunken in.

Luckily, a group of dirt bike riders was regrouping at the very spot which I was standing, thinking about which direction to go. I asked them how far hwy 50 was up the road and they just laughed, probably not a good sign. One of them remarked that it was probably another 40 miles and the terrain was worthy of a Tour De France Super Stage… Also not good. What about Mosquito road back down to the river? Again, Laughter. I should have known better, these guys were on dirt bikes and had just been riding the road I was questioning taking back to placerville. It was now around 3pm.

Perhaps these dirt bikers were gaurdian angels sent to keep me from becoming hopelessly lost in the vastness of the Tahoe National Forest with nightfall quickly approaching. I had to convince myself that continuing on towards the freeway was stupid. Even if I rode my ass off, I’d probably get there in the dark and still be what, 3, 4, 5 hours from home? I only had a 3 hour battery for my light so it looked like I was going to have to turn around, as much as it killed me to do so. Luckily I had done a good portion of the climbing on my way out, and I descended for days, first back to Georgetown, then back down to the river. Then, I got my ass kicked climbing back up to Placerville and for some reason I had decided that I was going to take the long way home after reaching the summit. Like I was trying to convince myself that I wasn’t a total wuss for not finishing the whole loop. I put lights on in Placerville because I wanted them ready to rock and roll for the creek crossing I knew was coming shortly, and headed out Cold Springs rd before making a left on road which I can’t recall the name of, but which takes you down to Lotus Rd. I crossed Lotus and headed out Luneman rd all the way down to the creek and crossed it in full darkness (yeah on the road bike) before climbing the super steep grades of Jergens to get back to Deer Valley road. Upon reaching Deer Valley (or is it Deer Creek, or Deer something else, Or something totally different?) I felt sure that I was actually going to make it home. It was a little up in the air up to that point.

I made it home right around 7pm, thouroughly dissapointed in not being able to complete the ride, but also knowing that I would indeed be giving it another shot again during the summer months. This second try will start earlier (I think I left at like 10am) and will not include my little excursion off the hwy before Georgetown. And, realistically, I still may need to bring lights!

I am coming to realize too that there are only so many big days to be had during the year and that rides like this one may not happen simply because it makes little sense to be on the bike for 12 hours and not be racing…. It’s too taxing to have a ride of that length not mean something. This all makes sense though, and being sensible is not something that I am particularly good at so I have every confidence that I will complete this epic at some point in the future. What a blog that one will be, eh?

Friday, November 27, 2009

12 Hours of Temecula 1/24/2009

Written January 24, 2009

I have no idea why I am even awake right now…. I just got off my bike a little over eight hours ago after completing the 12 Hours of Temecula January edition down at Vail Lake Resort just outside of Temecula, CA. It’s about a 7-8 hour drive from Norcal, but I have done the event twice, once in June and now in January and the race course has been super fun (and different) both times. Quite a few Socal companies show up with test bikes and new product for a big raffle, the race organizers are really nice people, and there are tons of familiar faces from the endurance race scene present to tear it up! All of this is well and good, but there is still no reason for me to be awake right now…

I always really enjoy the first couple of races of the season because I get to see all the people that I only see because of bike racing once again. It’s sorta like coming back to school after summer break, only I don’t have to study! No, instead of books and pencils, it’s time for some good ol’ fashioned suffering aboard the glorious creation we call a mountain bike. I get extremely nervous before races until deep into the season and Temecula was no exception, I was definitely shaking with excitement/nervous energy at the start yesterday morning. I was just happy to be there though, the odds were a bit stacked against the race effort last week so I was excited that I was able to be there at all.

I only just put my Mtn bike together on thursday night using a borrowed set of wheels (had to sell mine to pay rent last month…) and I was very hesitant about the idea of racing my Mtn bike for 12 hours when I hadn’t even ridden it in over a month! I figured I’d remember how to handle the bike at some point during the day and that I could pick up the rest of the pieces as I went. The other issue was the cost of the race, but I lucked out and the owner of the shop I am working at down here (San Diego) agreed to pay my entry fees if I wore his jersey. Okay! So I had a bike, and I was registered. All the other race prep was going well until I tested my light out on friday night and found that my battery wasn’t working…. Oh no! I scrambled to put together a spare light system and by about 10:30pm on friday night, I was feeling about as ready as I was ever going to be.

I am only living about an hour and fifteen minutes from where the race takes place in Temecula, so I slept at home and drove up on race morning. Lots of familiar faces were present to kick off the season. They don’t have too many awesome endurance races down in Socal, a lot of the faces belonged to racers whom I’ve met or seen at one of our top notch Norcal events. We’re so lucky to have such a play ground in our back yards up there! I was only able to throw my single speed together, which was well enough because Tinker was supposed to show up and destroy everyone and I didn’t really feel like trying to take on Tink when I hadn’t been on the bike for so long…. I entered the ss class and looked forward to a day of racing with a couple of tough guys whom I competed with in the past. It was looking like it was going to be a long day.

Race started at 9am sharp and quickly moved skyward into the desert hills. The course was 9 miles and change with about 1300′ vertical per lap…. Hmmm, sounds a little like Humboldt. Humboldt hurt pretty bad and I was sure this race was about to do the same. Tink and company shot off the front of the field as I fought with first lap traffic and tried to find my legs. The weather looked like it was going to be pretty nice for racing, not too hot and not too cold. By the second lap I had scoped out just who my competition was going to be and had resigned myself to racing only my race instead of trying to catch all the gear heads on my ss.

The course didn’t really have any long climbs, just short STEEP little punchy ones that suited big powerful riders quite well. I am not a big powerful rider and by the eighth lap I was definitely feeling it in my upper body as I dragged myself to the top of these steep pitches. I was relieved to see that my handling capability came up to a reasonable level within the first two laps. This was not a super technical course, but there are some super fast descents and definitely a couple of tricky sections. Nearly all the descending is done on these cool singletrack ridgeline trails so there are consequences (did you bring your parachute?) if you don’t stick you line.

I had figured that the top guys might do something like 16 laps of the course as laps were being ticked off quite quickly throughout the morning and into the afternoon. I was pitting with the Navy bike team (a lot of the riders are customers at the shop) and the wives of a couple of the guys were helping out with water and pb&j duties. I didn’t worry them with trying to check results and get lap times and what not. It was kinda nice not knowing who, what, when, where. I just went out and rode my bike! I didn’t even look at my watch until 4:30pm and I only started keeping track of lap times on my last 3 laps.

I knew I was riding well when I caught up to a couple of Norcal hammerheads who were racing gears and who I thought had a good chance of giving Tink a run for his money. Caught, dropped, moving on. I had a flat on lap 10 which was my only mechanical and which cost me a few minutes. As I didn’t have any idea where the other racers were, I was very worried about those few minutes lost, but things turned out alright. Everything was going well and feeling good as the night approached. Riding in the desert at night is hard. Everything is the same color but some ground is hard, some is soft, some rocky, some smooth, etc. Oh, and there are these little ridges that develop in the hardpack sand that will catch your wheel and send you flying if you’re not careful. It was like riding a brand new course on my first night lap. I haven’t checked the results, but that must’ve been my slowest lap.

My first night lap was also the lap that I decided I was going to do 15 laps at this race. No one was going to get 16, but I hadn’t been lapped by Tink and I wanted to keep it that way. I love trying to figure out lap times and what I need to do to reach my goals toward the end of a race. My first night lap was slow, my last three were not super fast, but I felt great and they got the job done. I was pedaling my little heart out but I was forced to walk a few of the steeper sections of a climb. Walking is okay on a ss if you can walk as fast as you would be climbing anyway…

I cut it a bit close and skipped my last pit to bring it home at 8:55pm. 11 hrs and 55mins raced out of 12 hours total. Not bad! I made my 15 lap goal and won the single speed class. I was very excited to see that I also would have secured 3rd in the pro men class. I was only 10 minutes off the 2nd place rider and about 23 minutes off of Tinker! I was one of only 3 racers to complete 15 laps, the other two being the top two finishers in the pro class…. Oh, What?!

So then, why can’t I go to sleep?? I am very tired, no doubt about that, but I’ve been a little twitchy with race energy since falling into bed around midnight. Nothing is quite right after one of these events and perhaps I pushed a little harder than I realized. I felt so great during the latter part of the race that I just kept pouring on the speed and I think my body is arguing with me now… Oh well, sundays are good days for naps. Right?

All in all, it was a great day. Good friends, good course, good competition. I’m glad I was able to go and test out the old legs. I am also glad though, that I don’t really plan on racing for another couple of months! The season is long, and there is no rush. Slow and steady wins the race…

DEZ SEZ

Written Jan. 1, 2009

Well,

First off let me apologize for going so long without an update of any sort. Lots has been happening with the holidays and such and it seems like I just haven’t had a good little chunk of time to sit down and make this thing happen. So, sorry. It’s all good though, with things settling down and so much time having gone by since the last post, I’ve got a stock pile of good stuff to talk about.

First off though, I had a comment asking me to reveal all my my dark racing secrets. Well… Okay, why not? So let’s talk about wheels. I have recently put together a 29 inch wheeled MTB and the initial rides upon the new steed were pretty impressive. I took her out to Auburn for my normal Wednesday afternoon ride and at one point during the ride I actually caught myself thinking, “I can’t race this bike. I won’t get any satisfaction out of winning if I’m riding this thing. It’s like Cheating!”. Yeah, no joke.

I’m going to jump off topic real quick here as Wednesdays are worth mentioning in greater detail. So just about every Wednesday after school (school’s over now, so all bets are off) I jump in my little Subaru and floor it up to Russel Rd. just off 80 and go for a little spin in the dirt. The normal route goes something like this: descend stagecoach or manzanita to confluence, cross the bridge, stay right and ride up the rocky trail by the river that most everyone descends, cross the road to mammoth bar, cruise up the fire road to the big turn out by the road, ride up the road about a 1/4 mile and hop over a fence to get on some cool moto trails, stay right and keep following the roads and trails until you eventually pop out on the forest hill divide loop. Do three laps of the divide loop, I usually do two one direction and then one the opposite way. Then, take connector back over to the three boulders, ride the tunnel trail back down to mammoth bar and hop back on the confluence trail. Ride your tired ass back up stagecoach to your car and fall over. Depending on the timing, I’ll add pieces of trail here and there, or do stagecoach a couple of times for a little longer ride. All depends on the day and the legs… So that’s the Wednesday “Loop”

Okay, back to 29ers. The first time I rode the 29er in Auburn, I was so stoked that I was sure I would never ever ride a 26 inch wheeled bike again. Ever. However, I have started to pick up on some of the disadvantages of big wheeled riding since that first magical voyage. First off, it’s a huge bike! There is just a lot of bike going on with a 29er, perhaps more than little Dezzi can handle? I do see the advantages of a 29er in terms of it’s momentum carrying capabilities as far out weighing it’s sluggish slow speed handling disadvantage but I’ve definitely begun to feel as though the bike is taking me for a ride rather than the other way around and I’m not sure if I like that feeling.

Having ridden the 29er quite a few times now, I’m starting to miss the snappy responsiveness of my trusty 26 inch bike. It’s unlikely that you’ll see me on big wheels this season…. I feel like my particular distate for 29 inch wheels is a matter of circumstance though. My bars are basically level with my saddle even with a -20 degree stem. What this means is that when I stand up to climb a hill, my arms are already bent at the elbow so far that I can’t get any leverage by pullng on the handlebars, I feel like I’m on a comfort bike! Here’s the break down

29er Advantages:

Rolls over everything!

Super stable, you never feel like you’re going to tip over or wash out while cornering

Smooooth….

Disadvantages:

Feels sluggish as hell on steep climbs

High bars put you in an awkward position for out of the saddle climbing

Weight (mine’s respectable at 21.7 w/ a 1×9)

I don’t know, as I said before, I think there are a couple of circumstances preventing me from taking advantage of big wheels. It’s a rider vs particular bike issue. A 29er would destroy Prairie City. It would be pretty killer on a course like Downieville XC too since the climb is steady and gradual. Anything with uber steep pitches is going to work you super quick though. Once that momentum leaves you, you’re not getting it back while going up hill.

As far as air pressure was concerned, I was told that running lower psi was the way to go. Seems to be true. I was using different tires than what I normally run on my 26 inch though and the 29er tires were not UST, so they rode much softer to begin with. As this was the case, I found that I only ran about 2-3psi less in my big wheels than in my standard wheels. It takes some playing around.

Overall, I feel like if you’re 6′+ a 29er will probably feel pretty natural to you. If you’re shorter than about 5′9″ or so, It may just feel like a little more bike than you can handle. Does for me anyway. I was also asked about a 29er hardtail vs a 26 FS. Hardtail all the way. Most of the descending capabilities without the same type of power loss. If you can keep the wheels rolling, you’re not going any slower up most hills on a 29er, but there’s always lost power on a FS. Depends on your riding style too. If you can spin a super smooth seated cadence, then there are some suspension designs which will climb like mountain goats. I suck at that sort of climbing, so I’ll always lean towards a solid rear end that doesn’t move when I’m clawing my way up a climb out of the saddle. So many things to consider!

So those are my latest thoughts on wheel size.

Now for the secrets…

Q:What sort of tires did I run at Cool/Tahoe Sierra? Did I flat?

A:I ran Michelin XCR Dry2 26×2.0 UST tires at Cool, front and rear. I always run the rear tire in reverse direction for added traction. I ran the same tire on the back at Tahoe Sierra, but ran a Michelin XCR AT UST 26×2.0 on the front. This tire became my go to for a front tire midway through the season, it’s a little more aggressive and you can notice the difference while cornering. I try my best not to flat, lucked out and didn’t flat at either race. It’s all about tire sealant and UST tires.

Q:Tubeless or tubed tires? Do you use sealant? Why?

A: See above.

Q:How do you do so many laps at a 24hr race? What do you eat & drink? What type of lights do you use, and how do they work? Handlebar & helmet? How long do your batteries last? What do you wear? How do you keep warm? What are the things on your checkoff list to bring. Chain lube?

A: I don’t think about the laps. I break a 24 hour race down into smaller peices. I can’t think about the whole thing, the idea of riding your bike for that long is crazy. It’s too big, too daunting. I just try to ride until dark, then until midnight(when I allow myself to put on music), then focus on riding until sunrise when things don’t seem so bad any more, and then I just try to have some fun and let it all hang out until noon. As crazy as it may sound, I look forward to the way I feel after a 24 hour race. I enjoy the exhaustion beyond comprehension, that feeling of pushing myself further than I should. I’m a creature of habit too, and by racing laps, I can make a little routine out of things. Eat at this stump, always drink here, switch bottles at the top of this climb, always stop to pee on that bush, etc. I guess it helps.

I eat food and drink water. Real food mostly, cereal, bread, fig newtons, granola bars, soup, pb&j, and some gus and candy bars towards the end when my system is saying ‘no’ to eating anything more. I have started using some salene stuff in my water too for hot races. Not sure if I notice the difference, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt. I would say eat whatever you can, really doesn’t matter what it is after a certain point, just so long as food is coming into the system. My food has come a long way since my first Coolest in 2007(I can’t believe my first solo 24 was only that long ago!); I kid you not, I ate half a loaf of bread, 10oz baked tofu, half a jar of Peanut Butter(the big one), an entire jar of jelly, three bananas, 4 cups pasta, 2 cup o noodles, 20 clif bars, 4 packs of oatmeal, seems like some eggs for breakfast, a bag and a half of fun size snickers candy bars, and downed about seven gallons of water. Nutty.

I use a Niterider Trinewt handlebar light.(Please note that that I have since made the switch to Lupine Lighting systems and I couldn't be happier! The Betty system is far brighter [1500 lumens!] than a Trinewt and far more reliable. Extremely lightweight and did I mention it's super bright?!) I can’t see for beans in the dark and it’s very bright and the battery lasts up to seven hours on low. Pretty dang good. I usually have two batteries, I don’t run them till near dead, I switch every three or four hours and charge them up so that I don’t go dark. I think Coolest this year was the only 24 I’ve ever done where I didn’t have a light go out on me during a lap. I always carry a little cateye light so I can limp back to the pit if things go dark.

I don’t stay warm. In fact I get very, very, very cold. I find that after about twelve hours on a bike that everything else hurts so bad that I don’t seem to notice the cold as much as I would otherwise though. I suspect that something similar to a fever is going on by the middle of the night too, nothing is working quite normally after so long with all systems set to ‘kill’. Still, I count on my hands and feet being numb for hours and hours and hours during a race. Just makes sunrise all that much more enjoyable.

Packing for a 24 is easy. I just bring everything. Anything can happen, so I’d rather pack everything and have the perfect pair of gloves or booties for the unexpected sub freezing night time temps(24 hours of adrenalin Hurkey Creek 2008) than listen to the weather report and pack for the conditions called for. You need something to heat food with. That’s super important. Hot food makes you feel good in the middle of the night. Bring stuff to fix your bike too. Figure out how many hours you ride your mtb in a month and think about the normal amount of work you do to your bike in a month. Say you ride your mtb 30hours in a month, give or take. So, bring enough stuff for a month’s worth of mainainance for just this race. Extra chain, chainrings, cogs, pedals, saddles, seatpost, handlebars, grips, tires, wheels, spokes, so on and so forth. Oh, and I bring a spare bike most of the time too…

Dumonde Tech is the only lube on the market worth purchasing. Period.

Q:Training in the rain - doesn’t it wreak your bikes with all the road and trail grit - Do you have a beater bike just for rain training?

A: Yep. Rain sucks. It makes your bikes work like total butt and it makes you hate riding. Oh, and it’s dangerous and cold. It’s pretty much all bad. Much to the frustration of the guy who keeps my bikes tuned up, I don’t have a rain bike. I can’t train and race on different bikes. My body picks up on the slightest little changes and differences and doesn’t adapt quickly to new crap so I just ride the heck out of my race bike, which is why the thing always looks a little hagard. It’s like your favorite pair of jeans. Ugly, beat down, threadbare and a little worn out with patches on the knees and a finicky zipper, but the world is just so right when you wear those beat up old denims. Same thing with my ridden through the rain beat down well worn in mtb. It just fits so right.

Phew! I’m all typed out. I’ve got more exciting epic rides to tell y’all about soon though. Keep your eyes out.

Dez

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DEZ SEZ
Well,

First off let me apologize for going so long without an update of any sort. Lots has been happening with the holidays and such and it seems like I just haven’t had a good little chunk of time to sit down and make this thing happen. So, sorry. It’s all good though, with things settling down and so much time having gone by since the last post, I’ve got a stock pile of good stuff to talk about.

First off though, I had a comment asking me to reveal all my my dark racing secrets. Well… Okay, why not? So let’s talk about wheels. I have recently put together a 29 inch wheeled MTB and the initial rides upon the new steed were pretty impressive. I took her out to Auburn for my normal Wednesday afternoon ride and at one point during the ride I actually caught myself thinking, “I can’t race this bike. I won’t get any satisfaction out of winning if I’m riding this thing. It’s like Cheating!”. Yeah, no joke.

I’m going to jump off topic real quick here as Wednesdays are worth mentioning in greater detail. So just about every Wednesday after school (school’s over now, so all bets are off) I jump in my little Subaru and floor it up to Russel Rd. just off 80 and go for a little spin in the dirt. The normal route goes something like this: descend stagecoach or manzanita to confluence, cross the bridge, stay right and ride up the rocky trail by the river that most everyone descends, cross the road to mammoth bar, cruise up the fire road to the big turn out by the road, ride up the road about a 1/4 mile and hop over a fence to get on some cool moto trails, stay right and keep following the roads and trails until you eventually pop out on the forest hill divide loop. Do three laps of the divide loop, I usually do two one direction and then one the opposite way. Then, take connector back over to the three boulders, ride the tunnel trail back down to mammoth bar and hop back on the confluence trail. Ride your tired ass back up stagecoach to your car and fall over. Depending on the timing, I’ll add pieces of trail here and there, or do stagecoach a couple of times for a little longer ride. All depends on the day and the legs… So that’s the Wednesday “Loop”

Okay, back to 29ers. The first time I rode the 29er in Auburn, I was so stoked that I was sure I would never ever ride a 26 inch wheeled bike again. Ever. However, I have started to pick up on some of the disadvantages of big wheeled riding since that first magical voyage. First off, it’s a huge bike! There is just a lot of bike going on with a 29er, perhaps more than little Dezzi can handle? I do see the advantages of a 29er in terms of it’s momentum carrying capabilities as far out weighing it’s sluggish slow speed handling disadvantage but I’ve definitely begun to feel as though the bike is taking me for a ride rather than the other way around and I’m not sure if I like that feeling.

Having ridden the 29er quite a few times now, I’m starting to miss the snappy responsiveness of my trusty 26 inch bike. It’s unlikely that you’ll see me on big wheels this season…. I feel like my particular distate for 29 inch wheels is a matter of circumstance though. Cdale doesn’t make a size small 29in frame, nor can they run super short head tubes like the ones found on most every other big wheeled bike on the market. This makes my postion on the bike super goofy. My bars are basically level with my saddle even with a -20 degree stem. What this means is that when I stand up to climb a hill, my arms are already bent at the elbow so far that I can’t get any leverage by pullng on the handlebars, I feel like I’m on a comfort bike! Here’s the break down

29er Advantages:

Rolls over everything!

Super stable, you never feel like you’re going to tip over or wash out while cornering

Smooooth….

Disadvantages:

Feels sluggish as hell on steep climbs

High bars put you in an awkward position for out of the saddle climbing

Weight (mine’s respectable at 21.7 w/ a 1×9)

I don’t know, as I said before, I think there are a couple of circumstances preventing me from taking advantage of big wheels. It’s a rider vs particular bike issue, but since I don’t have many options regarding which 29er I’m going to ride, it looks like it’s just not in the cards for me. Not right now at least. I will say that if I had the option to go buy any bike I wanted (like most of you do), I would not be looking at one with 26inch wheels…. ride a properly set up 29er in the correct size and I bet you won’t ever look back. A 29er would destroy Prairie City. It would be pretty killer on a course like Downieville XC too since the climb is steady and gradual. Anything with uber steep pitches is going to work you super quick though. Once that momentum leaves you, you’re not getting it back while going up hill.

As far as air pressure was concerned, I was told that running lower psi was the way to go. Seems to be true. I was using different tires than what I normally run on my 26 inch though and the 29er tires were not UST, so they rode much softer to begin with. As this was the case, I found that I only ran about 2-3psi less in my big wheels than in my standard wheels. It takes some playing around. I think Stan’s has got to be the way to go for 29er wheels. They rock. Period.

Overall, I feel like if you’re 6′+ a 29er will probably feel pretty natural to you. If you’re shorter than about 5′9″ or so, It may just feel like a little more bike than you can handle. Does for me anyway. I was also asked about a 29er hardtail vs a 26 FS. Hardtail all the way. Most of the descending capabilities without the same type of power loss. If you can keep the wheels rolling, you’re not going any slower up most hills on a 29er, but there’s always lost power on a FS. Depends on your riding style too. If you can spin a super smooth seated cadence, then there are some suspension designs which will climb like mountain goats. I suck at that sort of climbing, so I’ll always lean towards a solid rear end that doesn’t move when I’m clawing my way up a climb out of the saddle. So many things to consider!

So those are my latest thoughts on wheel size.

Now for the secrets…

Q:What sort of tires did I run at Cool/Tahoe Sierra? Did I flat?

A:I ran Michelin XCR Dry2 26×2.0 UST tires at Cool, front and rear. I always run the rear tire in reverse direction for added traction. I ran the same tire on the back at Tahoe Sierra, but ran a Michelin XCR AT UST 26×2.0 on the front. This tire became my go to for a front tire midway through the season, it’s a little more aggressive and you can notice the difference while cornering. I try my best not to flat, lucked out and didn’t flat at either race. It’s all about tire sealant and UST tires.

Q:Tubeless or tubed tires? Do you use sealant? Why?

A: See above.

Q:How do you do so many laps at a 24hr race? What do you eat & drink? What type of lights do you use, and how do they work? Handlebar & helmet? How long do your batteries last? What do you wear? How do you keep warm? What are the things on your checkoff list to bring. Chain lube?

A: I don’t think about the laps. I break a 24 hour race down into smaller peices. I can’t think about the whole thing, the idea of riding your bike for that long is crazy. It’s too big, too daunting. I just try to ride until dark, then until midnight(when I allow myself to put on music), then focus on riding until sunrise when things don’t seem so bad any more, and then I just try to have some fun and let it all hang out until noon. As crazy as it may sound, I look forward to the way I feel after a 24 hour race. I enjoy the exhaustion beyond comprehension, that feeling of pushing myself further than I should. I’m a creature of habit too, and by racing laps, I can make a little routine out of things. Eat at this stump, always drink here, switch bottles at the top of this climb, always stop to pee on that bush, etc. I guess it helps.

I eat food and drink water. Real food mostly, cereal, bread, fig newtons, granola bars, soup, pb&j, and some gus and candy bars towards the end when my system is saying ‘no’ to eating anything more. I have started using some salene stuff in my water too for hot races. Not sure if I notice the difference, but I’m sure it doesn’t hurt. I would say eat whatever you can, really doesn’t matter what it is after a certain point, just so long as food is coming into the system. My food has come a long way since my first Coolest in 2007(I can’t believe my first solo 24 was only that long ago!); I kid you not, I ate half a loaf of bread, 10oz baked tofu, half a jar of Peanut Butter(the big one), an entire jar of jelly, three bananas, 4 cups pasta, 2 cup o noodles, 20 clif bars, 4 packs of oatmeal, seems like some eggs for breakfast, a bag and a half of fun size snickers candy bars, and downed about seven gallons of water. Nutty.

I use a Niterider Trinewt handlebar light. I can’t see for beans in the dark and it’s very bright and the battery lasts up to seven hours on low. Pretty dang good. I usually have two batteries, I don’t run them till near dead, I switch every three or four hours and charge them up so that I don’t go dark. I think Coolest this year was the only 24 I’ve ever done where I didn’t have a light go out on me during a lap. I always carry a little cateye light so I can limp back to the pit when things go dark.

I don’t stay warm. In fact I get very, very, very cold. I find that after about twelve hours on a bike that everything else hurts so bad that I don’t seem to notice the cold as much as I would otherwise though. I suspect that something similar to a fever is going on by the middle of the night too, nothing is working quite normally after so long with all systems set to ‘kill’. Still, I count on my hands and feet being numb for hours and hours and hours during a race. Just makes sunrise all that much more enjoyable.

Packing for a 24 is easy. I just bring everything. Anything can happen, so I’d rather pack everything and have the perfect pair of gloves or booties for the unexpected sub freezing night time temps(24 hours of adrenalin Hurkey Creek 2008) than listen to the weather report and pack for the conditions called for. You need something to heat food with. That’s super important. Hot food makes you feel good in the middle of the night. Bring stuff to fix your bike too. Figure out how many hours you ride your mtb in a month and think about the normal amount of work you do to your bike in a month. Say you ride your mtb 30hours in a month, give or take. So, bring enough stuff for a month’s worth of mainainance for just this race. Extra chain, chainrings, cogs, pedals, saddles, seatpost, handlebars, grips, tires, wheels, spokes, so on and so forth. Oh, and I bring a spare bike most of the time too…

Dumonde Tech is the only lube on the market worth purchasing.

Q:Training in the rain - doesn’t it wreak your bikes with all the road and trail grit - Do you have a beater bike just for rain training?

A: Yep. Rain sucks. It makes your bikes work like total but and it makes you hate riding. Oh, and it’s dangerous and cold. It’s pretty much all bad. Much to the frustration of the guy who keeps my bikes tuned up, I don’t have a rain bike. I can’t train and race on different bikes. My body picks up on the slightest little changes and differences and doesn’t adapt quickly to new crap so I just ride the heck out of my race bike, which is why the thing always looks a little hagard. It’s like your favorite pair of jeans. Ugly, beat down, threadbare and a little worn out with patches on the knees and a finicky zipper, but the world is just so right when you wear those beat up old denims. Same thing with my ridden through the rain beat down well worn in mtb. It just fits so right.

Phew! I’m all typed out. I’ve got more exciting epic rides to tell y’all about soon though. Keep your eyes out.

Written Dec. 2008

The weather report called for evening showers. Every source I checked online showed patchy overcast skies on the radar image, but it looked to me as though my afternoon ride would be dry with a light drizzle towards the end… Better ride the MTB, just in case.

I finally got my 29er put together and I’d been using the cruddy weather as an opportunity to ride the new rig (not a Gary Fisher…) on days which I’d normally want to be out on the road bike. I usually go for a mostly flat road ride on mondays to recover a little from weekends spent in the foothills. I decided that a few laps around Granite Bay on the new 29er might be a fun recovery ride alternative to the usual road ride.

I have been living part time in Roseville, so Granite Bay is within riding distance of the casa. Of course, Granite Bay is within riding distance of a lot of places, but it’s within realistic riding distance of my Roseville digs. I used to ride out to Granite Bay on my cross bike when I lived in Carmichael by way of the Arden Way bike path entrance. But in that scenario, Granite Bay is really the turn around point rather than the spot where you’ll be riding… In any case, I hopped on my new Cannondale F29 and pedaled off towards the sandy little six and some odd mile Granite Bay loop around 1:30 pm (after sitting in class all morning under ominous, but dry, rain clouds) having just listened to an encouraging weather report which assured me that there would be some light showers, but “nothing like we saw on Saturday. We’re expecting just a sprinkle with rainfall totals less than 1/4″ throughout the night…” Sweet.Being the ‘glass is half full’ sort of fellow that I am, I decided against bringing a rain jacket, or a jacket of any sort actually and set out in my arm/leg warmers, vest, and toe covers for a pleasant afternoon spin. My feet go numb if someone mentions the word ‘cold’ and so I did pack some full neoprene booties and figured I’d be alright in the event of the light showers the weather man called for. I think the only reason that I come to races so well prepared is because I spend the entire off season doing training rides hopelessly underdressed and under supplied and the early winter rides are always the worst as I haven’t yet figured out that the weather is going to be crappy. Period, hands down, no gray area open to interpretation. My ride at Granite Bay was my first cold wet slap in the face this winter.

The wind was at my back as I headed towards Folsom Lake and I felt like I was tearing along on my new uber fast big wheeler. I’m not 100% sold on this big wheel idea just yet, but dang I’m close…. The thing is just dumb fast and I can ride over everything, it’s kinda like cheating. I actually found myself thinking that I didn’t want to race the new bike because it would take the challenge out of racing. I have since realized that 29ers do have their drawbacks and I’ll feel okay racing the new bike afterall. Back to the ride. The rain held off for a while and I completed my first lap of the classic Granite Bay loop in relative comfort. I was really patting myself on the back for dressing properly for the conditions and feeling pretty stoked that I wasn’t hauling around a ton of un-needed clothing. Then, rather abruptly, my ‘glass is half full’ attitude got poured all over my head…

The heavens opened up and I went from feeling the stoke to wishing that the ride was over quicker than you can say “light drizzle”. I had planned on getting back to the homestead around 5:30pm and jumping on the road bike so I could ride to Folsom for another bike fit session (look out, Dez is about to be super comfy on his bike next season…), but after about half an hour in the rain, it became clear that I was going to need to be home a little sooner in order to change/add clothing and/or change so that I could drive to Folsom instead. I don’t think that I think clearly while riding my bike because I decided a sort while later that instead of getting home early and driving to Folsom, I would get home at the original time, change shoes and get on the road bike. I was already sopping wet, what would a little more time on the bike hurt?

Conditions continued to deteriorate at Granite Bay and by the time I left the park and headed back home, I was thouroughly soaked and extremely cold. Then, I left the tree cover and I may as well have just jumped in the lake! I was cursing the weather report as I rode down Douglas Blvd in a down pour, but I didn’t let the gnarly weather change my plan to ride to Folsom. I just said to myself, “I’ll bring dry clothes to the bike fit and this will clear up in no time, it’s only supposed to be a drizzle. No way it can rain like this for too long.”

It wasn’t dumping when I left on my road bike en route to Folsom, in the dark. With the dry clothes I’d thrown on at the house and a new helmet mounted light set up I’d won a few weeks ago at a 24 in socal, I was feeling totally confident that my decision to ride to Folsom instead of driving was the correct decision afterall. I changed my mind about five minutes later.

The rain came back with a vengance and I got absolutely dumped on the entire way to Folsom. It was one of those situations where you aren’t bummed or angry so much as you are just unable to believe what’s happening. I couldn’t believe how hard it was raining, I couldn’t believe that it was dark, I couldn’t believe how wet I was, and most of all I couldn’t believe how entirely stupid I was for being in this situation at all. I have a car! I even had money to put gas in it at that point. I could have been dry and warm upon arriving in Folsom, but was I going to be now? Nooooooo…. After weaving through some “Yes On 8″ picketers at Auburn Folsom and Greenback, I arrived at my bike fitting; soaked to the bone, and late. But, feeling rather bad ass none the less.

I learned a few things from this little adventure, among them are: Winter sucks, and it will always suck. The weather is the thing that makes winter suck, and one must plan accordingly. My new lights are extremely water proof. My booties are not. 29ers rock and roll as much in the rain as they do in the dry. Bontrager road tires handle suprisingly well in a down pour in the middle of the night (no flats!). And most importantly, Weather Men are not to be trusted.

In case I needed any more reminding of this last point, just as I started to think that I was going to make it back home after the fit in relative dry comfort, the sky opened up one last time and gave me everything that it had left. Right on! I totally wanted to wash and dry every single piece of cycling clothing that I own tonight…. he he he, yeah right.

More soon…

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

12 Hours of Temecula November Edition

Last weekend was the last 12 hour race of the season down in Temecula. Jason and his crew put on another awesome event and pieced together a fun and challenging course with some pretty techy sections and some tough climbs.

I drove down south on Friday before the race and about the time I was in the grapevine I realized I had forgotten my waterbottles in the dishwasher... Well, no turning back now, I would just have to buy some when I got to Temecula. Between the grapevine and Temecula, I did the math on how much my little mistake was going to cost me and if I planned on buying enough bottles so that I could run the race without a pit crew(as I planned on doing), I was looking at like $60 just for bottles- Dang it!I decided to buy four bottles instead of a dozen and just hoped that I could find someone at the race who would be willing to fill them up every few laps.

The drive was pretty smooth, didn't really hit traffic in LA which is great and I actually got to Temecula while the sun was still out and with plenty of time to find some dinner and hit up the local bike shop, where my sob story failed in getting me any kind of discount on water bottles. Oh well, they're nice bottles. I was feeling amazing considering I had just driven for seven plus hours, the new 2XU compression clothing was certainly doing its job! After a quick dinner ($5 footlongs!) I went out to Vail Lake where the race was taking place the next morning and I was greeted by freezing cold temps and a fee to camp.

It was now dark, but certainly not late enough to think about going to bed, so I jumped back in the car and got back on the freeway and headed south for San Diego where I knew I could find a warm place to sleep as I had a few good friends in the area. I figured it would be well worth the extra hour of driving in the morning to get back to the race venue if I could get a good nights sleep in the peace and quiet of someones house. I found a house, but it was somewhat less than quiet. My buddy lives in the landing flight path of the SD international airport... So about every 7-10 minutes the roar of jet engines would shake the tiny apartment as I tried to get some rest. I shoved some cotton balls in my ears and called it good.

Highway 15 north between SD and Temecula should be known as the freeway of no facilities. I thought I was going to miss the race because I spent so long trying to find a freakin bathroom on the way to Temecula. I stopped for gas, no restroom, I went down the street to BK, someone is using the restroom (in hindsight I should have just waited), and I eventually wound up back on the freeway and never found a bathroom until I was actually in Temecula.... Three stops are always better than one when you're trying to get somewhere on time!

I hooked up with a couple of Steve Kwait's buddys who had driven out to the race in the Cdale truck with a few demo bikes. They were racing a two man team and agreed to help me out with the water bottle filling situation. I made all of my food in advance and laid everything out on a little camp table before the race, but apparently I took a little too long in my preparations and I missed the start by a few seconds. It was a rolling start through the camp ground and I was probably a couple hundred riders back by the time we hit the dirt. Oh well, I was just here to have a good time, I had no idea who was in my class or what they looked like, I figured I would just ride my bike all day and see what happened. I didn't have a crew to keep track of time gaps and results, so worrying about where I was in relation to everyone else would have done me little good anyway.

There was tons of room to pass on the course, lots of fireroad climbs separated by super sweet, often dangerous ridgeline singletrack descents. I have raced here four times now and Jason always puts together a new loop using different bits and pieces of the different trail networks so you always get to do a new course, but it always has some familiar pieces as well. The infamous Dam(n) Climb was included in this course and it was as tough as ever. Also included were the gnarly little rock obstacle at the top, the sandy switch backs, the roller coaster drop and the three bitches towards the end of the loop. It was a tough course, but it was the fun kind of tough.

I was having a great time, I've cut back my riding to about 14 hrs a week, so I hadn't really done anything long since my last race at the beginning of October. It's fun to ride when you feel well rested though, I felt like I was moving pretty quickly, but I was still having little chats with other riders and just genuinely enjoying my day. There were a couple of tough laps when I considered walking a section of the Dam(n) Climb that was getting super loose and steeper (for real) as the day went on, but I pushed through the tough times and finally made it to that point you get to if your lucky where the pain seems to melt away and you're just flowing over the course like water over river rocks. You become smooth and fluid and you start to feel as though you could flow forever so long as nothing stops you from moving.

The sun dropped behind the horizon and the temperature dropped right along with it. I didn't notice too much, but my feet certainly got cold. I decided to put on full leg and arm warmers when I stopped to put on my lights. I was good for the most part as far as temperature went for the rest of the race and I was able to keep flowing over the course through the darkness. My new Lupine lighting system was phenomenal. I felt bad for any rider that I came up behind because I knew that no matter what they were running for lights, all they were able to see while I was behind them was their own shadow cast out before them. I had programmed my new light to burn at 40% on low and ran it on that setting until the last half of my last lap.

I finished my 11th lap and for the first time that day, I asked the time keeper what time it was. I needed to know how long my next lap took so that I could figure out if I would have time for a 13th lap or not. I'm not sure if his watch was off but I was told it was 6:53 pm when I embarked on my 12th lap and when I came back in, it was 7:57 pm. I had one hour and three minutes to complete my 13th lap of the day. I didn't think about it, I just went. I didn't pit, didn't grab food or water, I just tore off into the darkness with the cheers of the pits all around me.

I pushed it pretty hard on the Dam(n) Climb and told myself that it was smooth sailing from there. This was mostly true. I had cased just about every technical section of the course on my 12th lap and I knew that more crashing meant a slower lap so I switched the light to 100% and cleared all of the tricky sections on the course. It's like riding with the sun tied to your handlebars when the Betty is on full blast. I tore through the rest of the course, passing riders who had set out on their last lap well before I did and wondering if they knew how close they were cutting it, how close we were all cutting it.

I finished the 13th lap of the day at 8:52 pm, eight minutes to spare. Guess it wasn't so close after all. I felt like I had wings on that last lap though, it was awesome. My race day buddy Tom, who I'd ridden with for 3 laps earlier in the day and who had taken 2nd place at the 24hrs of Hurkey Creek race, missed the time cutoff by 48 seconds after trying to complete his 12th lap of the race. So close, and yet, so far!

About two minutes after Tom crossed the line, I realized something; it was freakin freezing! My hands, feet, face, ears, all numb, and not just a little bit, no they were painfully numb. My casual clothes had been sitting outside of course, so they didn't help matters much when I put them on, but after a few minutes in the bathroom playing in the sink (warm water, modern camping kicks ass!) I was able to feel my face and fingers once more and I went back out into the cold to finish packing up camp.

I had one thing on my mind after the race, actually I had one thing on my mind for like the last half of the race, a burrito from my favorite 24 hour taco stand down in San Diego. After awards, I hightailed it back down the 15 toward the border for some artery clogging, gut busting, good ol' fashioned mexican food. As I sat beneath the socal stars outside of Sun Tacos just before midnight, meticulously enjoying every succulent bight of my pollo asada burrito (Chicken, beans, lettuce, guac, rice, salsa verde, and sour cream - heck yeah!), I realized that I was enjoying what was most definitely the greatest post race meal of my entire life and that Northern California is in serious need of some good mexican food.

All in all, it was a great race and a wonderful interruption to my off season. I certainly had my doubts about racing for 12 hrs when I was supposed to be resting up for 2010, but I have not a single regret. Well, actually I regret getting another burrito for breakfast the next morning on my way back home as I drove through Santa Ana, it ws a little too much for my Norcal stomach to handle apparently; but other than that, I'm pretty stoked on the way the weekend turned out.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot! I won the race, Pro Solo. I think that some of the four man teams got one more lap than I did, but I'm pretty sure I was right there with most of the three man teams, that's a good day! Thanks again to Cannondale for putting me on the fastest bike on the race course, to my new sponsors: Lupine for allowing me to go fast when the suns not around, and to 2XU compression clothing for getting me to the race feeling fresh, and of course to the rest of my wonderful sponsors for all of your continued support.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Have you seen this yet?



Check this thing out! The new carbon Flash Ultimate from Cannondale weighs 16 lbs out of the box... That's F***ing stupid light weight, like a pound and a half lighter than my road bike! I had a chance to ride the new frame with the DT carbon rims spec'd on the ultimate but with Sram X0 rather than the XX stuff that comes on the Ultimate, but dangit this bike rides unlike any hardtail I've ever ridden before. Sure it climbs like a bat outta hell, that's nearly a given based on the weight, but it's descending capability is what sets this bike apart from other hardtails. Take a look, read about all the fancy this and that that makes the bike do what it does so well, but don't take my word for it. Go ride one!
http://www3.cannondale.com/bikes/10/cusa/flash.html

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ouch!

I got stung by a bee on my way home from work today... On the tip of the middle finger! I've had quite a few bee stings and I can't remember one ever being quite this painful. It makes typing a little awkward too.

Anyhow, aside from the bee sting, the off season is going pretty well, I'm feeling pretty well rested already and I've only been taking it easy for two weeks. I'm tempted to up the training hours again next week, but I think I'll give it at least one more and maybe two more weeks before I pick it up again. Thanksgiving was originally going to be the first big day of base miles, we'll see if I last that long.

I have three or four races to catch up up on in the next few days too. Oh boy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tahoe Sierra 100 2009

The week was going extremely well, despite the sharp pains in my chest and constant ache due to the broken rib I’d sustained the week before due to a crash on my mountain bike. I was feeling strong and confident and looking very forward to racing the new Tahoe Sierra course that weekend.
I was racing a geared FS versus the singlespeed hardtail which I had raced last year and I was pretty darn confident that I would be able to improve upon my seventh place finish from the year before. I was convinced that not only would my bike aid me in completing the course faster, but that I was also stronger than I had been last year and I honestly thought that I might even land on the podium… My legs had other plans for the day, unfortunately.
Tahoe Sierra was an entirely different event than it was in 2008. A new start finish and a new, more challenging course made it seem as though it was a brand new event. I left work at six pm on friday evening and drove up to the ice lakes lodge where we would be starting the race bright and early the next morning. The lodge was a slight upgrade in accomodations compared to last year’s tent city built at the end of Mosquito Ridge Road… Slight. The lodge was only a stone’s throw from the freeway and not only that, but the staff was on hand and the lodge’s resturaunt and bar were open the evenings before and after the race. Shoot, they even served breakfast extra early the morning of the race just to accomodate the race. Certainly different than sleeping in a tent and freezing your butt off while you sit in your sleeping bag eating a bowl of oatmeal before your race start.
Nearly all of my fellow races were chummin it up at the lodge when I arrived. I said my ‘hellos’ to the usual suspects: Jim, Lisa, Mike Harrison, Jay, Sean McDevitt, and of course, Tinker. I was feeling like I could give him a run for his money in tomorrow’s race. The legs were good, the lodge was warm and friendly, and there was plenty of food for dinner and for breakfast, what could go wrong?
I slept pretty misearably that night, there was an eighties music marathon pumping from someone’s stereo across the lake and the sounds of oingo boingo drifted over the calm water and straight into the open patio door of our room until after ten pm. I’d like to blame the music for my poor slumber, but I don’t think it had much to do with it. I was nervous. I was thinking about my ribs and how sleeping on the floor was so painful at that moment, and I was thinking about facing Tinker once again when the sun came up in a few short hours. That’s enough to make anyone nervous, right?
The alarm went off at 5:30 am and I was up and dressed within a few minutes. I wanted to get up to breakfast and out to my bike to lube the chain and what not and make sure everything was tight as soon as possible. Heck, I even wanted to try to get a warm up in. That didn’t happen. There just wasn’t enough time before the race start to get everything done, so the warm up got cut from the agenda and before I knew it, we were standing on the start line preparing to hurl ourselves down Soda Springs Road and into a day of suffering.
The descent went okay for me, I was lucky enough not to experience one of the many flats that claimed riders straight out of the gate. In fact, on the day of the Tahoe Sierra 100, the descents were about the only thing that went well. On the first series of climbs, I didn’t think much of it when my legs refused to apply any power to the pedals but could only spin instead. They were just cold, and needed a few miles to warm up, that’s all. Unfortunately, I felt like this the entire day. Every single climb felt like the first climb of a training ride and my legs simply never found anything that resembled a rhythm of any sort.
As the race went on, I got weaker and weaker and slower and slower. I got frustrated for a time because it’s generally my tendancy to find my legs on the course and to get stronger and stronger as the day goes on. To my dismay, I was forced to use some of the lowest gears on the bike in sections of the course where I would never even consider doing so on most days. I was looking down at my cassette with disbelief over and over again throughout the day. A+B did not equal C. I was absolutely destroying myself, my legs were on fire, I felt as though I was putting in a Herculean effort to turn the pedals over, and yet I was turning a supremely low gear and just barely moving up those climbs.
It was frustrating for a time. But, after about four hours of fighting with my legs and bike to try to convince them to work as a team rather than against each other, I finally accepted the fact that something was going on and that my legs were probably not going to warm up that day. I told myself that Tahoe Sierra was now a long training ride for the 24 hour race I had the following weekend. I was bummed. Everything was just so right, the weather was great, not too hot and not too cold, the new course was wonderful, the aid stations were fantastic, my nutrition and fluid intake seemed to be in order; and yet I was in a world of hurt the whole day, struggling to finish in the top ten when I had been so hopeful of finishing on the box.
Jim added a few sections of singletrack into the course and completely switched up the route compared with last year. There were times on a few of the descents where I was reminded of Downieville and other times where I was reminded of the riding in my own back yard. These new sections were about the only places where I probably wasn’t losing time as the day went on. I just had no power in those legs of mine, none. I wasn’t even thinking of throwing in the towell though.
I had just passed the Mad Cat aid station for the second time and was feeling content with simply making it to the finish at that point, when my race got a little more epic. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t turn around and go back to Mad Cat when my left pedal broke and left me unable to clip in, but for some reason, I kept moving forward. Now, I say that my pedal broke and not that I broke my pedal because I was actually remounting my bike after a hike a bike section on a climb. No rocks or stumps nearby to clip a pedal on, I just couldn’t clip in when I started to pedal up the hill and when I looked down, sure enough, that pedal was toast! I could still pedal, sort of, but descending was nearly impossible because I had to stay seated to keep my foot on the pedal. I battled with this issue until I arrived at Ronbinson Flate where Auburn Bike Works was manning the aid station. Now my top ten really was in jeopardy. Luckily McGiver(Mike) was working at the aid station and he was able to zip tie my left shoe to the pedal. He held the bike up while I inserted my foot into my permanently attached shoe and I was off to climb up toward the finish.
The rest of the event was pretty uneventful. I got no second wind, I just kept getting weaker and weaker. I hoped that maybe I’d be able to turn it up on the last climb, but I was greeted with the same nearly useless legs which I’d had all day and I simply tried not to get passed in the last 25 miles. I thought that just maybe I could bring back two riders who I had yo-yo’d with earlier in the day during those last climbs but they were long gone, and any chance I had of seeing them again had dissapeared in the eight miles of broken pedaling.
I finished seventh on the day, the same place as last year. Dissapointed but satisfied all at once. I had just had what I could honestly say was the absolute worst day I had ever experienced on a bike, if it had been a training ride I might have gone home and gone back to bed…. But I hadn’t given up, I hadnt’ gone back to bed, even when my pedal broke in the on a dirt road somewhere in the Sierras. In fact, I just laughed at that point. What else can you do? Getting angry would have certainly only made the situation that much worse, it definitely wouldn’t have fixed my pedal and breathed new life into my burning legs, so ha ha ha ha.
All in all, it was another great race and a day to remember. I heard more stories around the dinner table that night about other racers who’d had eaqually epic days. Sean flatted at the top of the first descent and I believe twice more after that, joking that his Tahoe Sierra started about a half hour late. Another rider broke his frame near the start and tried to build a new bike so that he could complete the race… Not sure what happended there, but I guess it just goes to show that anything can and will happen in a mountain bike race. You can’t help but wonder though, why so very many things seem to go wrong on race day? I mean, I had ridden that pedal two days before the race, why didn’t it break then, or on any one of a thousand other training rides? Who knows, Murpy’s law I suppose. Frustrating at times, but let’s face it, that’s part of what makes mountain biking what it is and part of why we love it so much.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Think They're Broken!

My ribs are killing me. I crashed two weeks ago while trying to heal a neck injury. Dumb, I know. I shouldn't have been out on my mtn. bike in the first place, but I was just riding to work and I didn't think I could hurt myself so badly on the mild trails between the casa and the workplace. Guess I was mistaken. I was riding a sweet little singletrack which I had never shredded before and came over the top of a little lump of dirt with some forward momentum, realizing only after it was too late that I needed to steer hard left at the top of the little whoop de do in order to avoid a 4+ foot drop. I had some momentum, but not that much momentum. My front end was already over the edge of the drop before I even had time to react and my sorry efforts at pulling the bars upward and thrusting my weight back were in vain.

I sailed ass over end straight off the drop, landing squarely on my head and then flopping straight onto my back left side. The ground where I landed was flat and I landed with a dead thump and a solid impact. No bouncing or rolling or sliding to dispurse the impact and my momentum. Nope, just my rib cage to break my fall. I stayed curled up in the fetal position for a minute or so, groaning and trying to catch my breath, not quite understanding what just happened. My first thought was, "I can't believe I just crashed at Empire Mine, this is ridiculous!" My second thought was, "Oh man, my neck is gonna be super screwed up now, I landed on my freakin head..."

Appearantly though, landing on the head while nursing a neck injury speeds recovery of the neck. The trick is not to immediately land on your ribs following the head impact... I haven't slept a good solid night in the last two weeks, laying down hurts. Urghh. I think I was starting to get better though and I decided to go on a mtn bike ride today to make sure everything was in order for this weekend(Tahoe Sierra). I burped a tire around a corner which lead to a little foot high drop. Nice, this meant that instead of falling just to ground level and landing directly on the injured side of my body, I was hurled off the drop; landing another foot lower than the height where the fall was initiated. Of course, I managed to land directly on the ribs in question. I feel like I might die right now. Just kidding. A little. It does hurt pretty badly though and I am not super stoked that I went and did this to myself.

On the bright side, I have been working a lot on seated climbing, so even though I can't stand up or pull up on my handlebars, I should still be able to ride up the climbs this weekend at a respectable pace. It's gonna be and interesting day in the saddle.

Friday, September 4, 2009

12 hours of Humboldt 2008

12 Hours of Humboldt went down this weekend in Redwood Park just outside of Humboldt State University. The course was just about 8 miles long with 1300-1400 ft of climbing per lap. A mix of double track, gravel roads and sweet singletrack wound around nearly entirely underneath the cover of 300 ft tall redwoods. Temps were in the low 60s in Arcata, but probably in the low 50s on course, as we were on the dark forest floor all day, morning and evening fog are standard issue on the northern California coast, but i think the sun was out throughout the day, it was just hidden from us racers by the towering trees. The course wasn't entirely closed to other users and a healthy number of Hippies on course added an interesting flavor to the race.

I decided to race with a 1x9 on my Taurine instead of racing it as a singlespeed. I figured that since i don't race the single speed class anyway, i may aswell have at least some of the gears that my competitors have. The race started on time at 8 am and myself and another solo named Sean Allen(known to spank Tinker Juarez in the past) proceeded to churn out 4 sub 40 minute laps. Sean was racing the 40+ class so it was just friendly riding. We had almost 15 minutes on the next solo going into the 5th lap and i could tell that both Sean and I were waiting for the other to slow up a bit, we were averaging around 17mph and realistically that wasn't going to last with the amount of climbing on course. I didn't want to be the first to slow the pace though.

Then, midway through the 5th lap, a nasty noise coming from the cranks on my bike gave my a half second warning that the shit was about to hit the fan. I looked down just in time to see my chain ring/bash gaurd explode off the crank spider and send crank bolts flying into the woods and my chain flying off the outside. My race is over. I haven't got the parts to fix this, and this is the first time that i didn't bring a spare bike with me. We've been raicng for 2 hrs...

Enter Sean Allen, who was right next to me when things went bad. Without hesitation, he told me to run it back in and grab his spare bike to finish the race. Sean is as much a Cdale junkie as any of us and his spare bike was a nicely built 1fg, geared on the tall side for this course at 34x18, but it would have to do. After running back to the start, finding Sean's bike, switching pedals, adjusting seat, blah, blah, blah, I'd lost a solid 1/2 hour on Sean, and now sat 15 mins behind the other guy in the pro class. I was worried, I'll admit it. I was now riding an unfamiliar bike(with a terrible seat!), one that had only one speed and I now had 15mins to make up on my competition. Yikes!

I told myself to forget about Sean, catching him was out of the question unless he completely popped. He was riding so smooth and strong that i didn't see that happening. So, i just focused on trying to catch the other Pro Solo rider, telling myself to stay calm, I had almost 10hrs to race, plenty of time to make the catch. The catch happened after only two laps on the single speed. What a relief!??

After catching my competitor, I tried to slow up, I'd been really huffing it since gettin on the single speed and i knew that catching him would be worthless if i blew up before the end of the race. The thought of catching Sean was still in the back of my head, but i figured if it happened, it happended, if it didn't, then oh well. Riding a super tall geared single was beginning to wear me down toward the midway point in the race, I tried not to pit except when totally necessary, I wanted every bit of extra time i could get, the smooth fire road descents really favored riders with geared and the steep upill pitches got harder and harder on that tall gear.

In the end, I wasn't able to pull Sean Allen back in but nearly lapped second place in my category... And I Finished!!! That's what i tried to remind myself of as i felt slightly bummed about not getting the overall. Sean and I did finish with the same number of laps. 15 laps and somewhere around 20,000 ft of climbing. A good day overall, looking back i'm proud of how calm i stayed through the technicals, but i know that had Sean not been there, the weekend would have been lost. Lesson: never leave home without a spare bike, or enough spare parts to build yourself a new one; anything can, and eventually will happen.

Temecula June 2008

Alright, so i know that it's a little late, but this race report is making an appearance a lot sooner than the last one did, so i'm getting better. For those of you who don't know where Temecula is, it's not close. In fact, it's somewhat far, about 45mins north of San Diego on the Hwy 15, inland from the ocean far enough that it has none of the mild climates of coastal San Diego; no, Temecula is just a little desert town that heats up(appearantly) quite nicely in the middle of June...12hrs of Temecula is part of the endurance series this year that team bigfoot puts on, usually the events are more norcal-ish and primarily up in the Arcata/Humboldt area, but seeing as how i'm doing pretty well this season on the endurance stuff and i've had some luck in some of the other events in the series, i wasn't going to let a little seven hour drive stop me from giving this event my best shot. My lovely girlfriend and her family, who had been so great up in Weaverville, were also thinking of going to Temecula and so i figured that the weekend was going to be quite enjoyable, whether or not the race itself went well.I used the race as an excuse to go visit my buddies in San Diego. I couldn't see driving that far south and not continuing on to SD to say hello to Joe and the guys at the shop. I originally planned on leaving the wednesday evening before the race, after prairie city and just driving all night. After some thought, i realized that this was a retarded idea, i would arrive in Temecula thursday morning totally beat, try to go to sleep, wind up not sleeping, be in no mood to test ride the course, then drive to san diego and be all pissed off because i missed my thursday ride, i'm tired, and i still didn't pre ride the course... and for what? so that i could hang out in a bike shop for an extra day? i hang out in a bike shop quite a bit as it is, so i re thought my plans and decided that i would spend the night in sac on wednesday, get up and ride my normal 4hrs or so on thursday, and leave at some point on thursday afternoon. this plan was especially well thought out because it afforded me the opportunity to hang out with my Jamie Girl for a couple of extra hours before my solo 8 hr drive to SD.I had every intention of racing my Scalpel in Temecula, I even rode it on thursday to make sure everything was in order, i brought my singlespeed just in case.... The drive down went super smooth, made it from Folsom to Denny's on Alvarado in SD in 7:15. The van rocks! I grabbed some dinner, checked the email and had an ice cream sundae(race fuel) at Denny's, then drove over to a neighborhood that i used to sleep in while staying in SD and parked the van for the night. Woke up in an oven the next morning at about 7am, not that stoked. I hadn't slept much wednesday night, too amped up from prairie city i guess and i had hoped to sleep in on friday morning as i knew i wouldn't be doing so on saturday. oh well.Jamie and company were driving down on friday to Temecula and i wanted to meet them there, so i was off to Joe's shop to say hello and get my bikes all ready for the race. I left Joes around 12:30 and realized temecula was closer than i thought, oh well, i'd just have to wait a little while for everyone else to get there, no big deal.... oh, except for the massive detour at the grapevine followed by a second detour that sent them all the way to Barstow en route to Temecula. Suddenly the seven hour drive from sac to temecula was getting very long for Jamie, her family, and there passengers and fellow racers, Robert and Jenna. I hadn't originally planned on pre riding the course as it was now the day before the event and i pretty much never ride the day before an event if i can help it, but i figured i may as well since it was going to be a while before everyone got to the venue. I felt so terrible for them, i can barely stand being in the car if everything is going smooth, put me into a little traffic, or give me a detour and i pretty well flip out. i couldn't imagine what the mood must have been like in the motorhome...I pre rode the course in the middle of the afternoon on friday, which gave me an idea of what temps would be like on saturday, yikes. this might get a little tricky. I pre rode on my Scalpel, i was going to race that bike god dangit! but, after my pre ride, i hopped on my singlespeed and angels sang.... i goofed around with some stuff on the scalpel, but just couldn't get it to feel quite right, it feels okay, but not as good as my hardtail, and the course was pretty much made for a single speed, only a couple of spots where gears would have an advantage. Screw it, i'm racing one gear again. I was a little worried about the idea if Tinker showed up though... Although, he would kick my ass if i was riding a geared bike too, so it really didn't matter, may as well race what i'm most comfortable on.Everyone else finally arrived after a 12 hour drive through hell's half acre and they all sort of fell out of the motor home in a daze, i couldn't blame them... The initial plans to test ride the course went out the window as the drive got longer and longer, so i tried my best to tell Robert, Chris, and Jenna about the important details of the course. The first fire road climb went on for what seemed like forever, then there was a tricky rutted descent, a techie little rock garden obsticle at the top of a climb, then some sorta gnarly little switch backs, and from there, it was pretty smooth sailing, with one hike a bike climb and lots of fun single track. Spaghetti for dinner and lights out around eleven on a cozy little bed in the family motor home.... How did i get so lucky?! certainly beats the pb&j sandwhich with some cold precooked pasta followed by restless sleep on a thin foam pad in the back of my van that is usually the pre race routine when i go to events solo... again, how did i get so lucky?! and with my Jamie Girl sleeping just a few feet away, i couldn't have been happier, made getting a restful night's sleep a piece of cake.I was the last one up on race morning, everyone was sitting in the motorhome chatting it up when i woke up, that's the secret, sleep in! Breakfast was dry cereal, as always, and then it was time to cruise down to the pits to get set up and hear the race meeting and all of that good stuff.... No Tinker. But that only meant that i was racing for the win, and not for second place, it didn't make the day any easier, by any means.it was already warm by the 9am start and the first lap flew by pretty quick as i was trying to get a handle on who was in my class, who was solo and who was riding on a team, i think i came through in 5th-ish and set out on my second lap to catch the field and see who i was up against. I caught the other solos on the climb, a couple of them stayed with me through some of the rolling stuff and then i lost them on the gradual up hill later in the course. i decided to try to open up a little gap by simply trying to keep my pace the same as it had been for the first two laps. I didn't wan to speed up, i'd pay for it later in the race, i just didn't want to slow down, because i knew that's exactly what everyone else would do as the hours passed. I never saw any of the solos again(unless i was lapping them) and after five laps, my lead on second was 11minutes, and 25minutes on third. My laps were ticking off like clockwork, all within minutes of one another, and i decided at this point that 12 laps would be an attainable goal, though it could be close, as i expected my lap times to slip a little towards the end of the race. Many racers had their ear buds in from the start of the race, i told myself i wouldn't put the ipod on until i was over the half way mark, and after my seventh lap, feeling like i had a pretty good handle on the race, i threw the tunes on. the air temps must've been well into the 90s and the surface temps out on the course(not a single tree) must have been much higher, i could feel the strength threatening to leave my legs, so we upped the elecrolyte mix and started doing two bottles of mix per lap instead of one water and one mix. i also started taking two salt tabs per lap instead of one every other lap. The extrem heat made eating solid foods very difficult and i survived on GUs for the last four laps of the race. I'd done so well with nutrition in the early hours that i had no issues what so ever with GUs to finish things off. I never felt as though a bonk was looming.To my pleasant suprise, my lap times stayed nearly identical throughout the entire race, only increasing subtlely in the afternoon heat and getting quicker once again when the heat subsided. I rember looking at my watch at 3:30pm as i went out for a lap and thinking that it might be tricky to put in another 5 laps before 9pm, what with pits and all, and surely i'd slow down.... but i finished five laps later, almost exactly five hours later, just before 8:30pm, so consistent it was almost amazing.As the afternoon went on, the temps eventually crept back down to the point where you didn't feel as though you were going to die as you climbed, and riders once again began to populate the course. Things had gotten a bit lonely on the course during the heat of the day as i think a lot of riders took some extra time in the pits to cool off. That was probably a really smart idea, i'm not that smart though, and i tried to keep things going as quickly as possible regardless of the searing tempurature. About the end of lap 10, i felt like i could start to relax about being caught by second place, i wasn't sure of where he was at, i only knew from what Jamie was telling me that he was way behind, that i'd lapped him once or twice, i wasn't even sure who second place was or what he looked like! Only one more and then it's time for the light, i told myself as i started out on lap 11, seemed a little goofy to put a light on for about 30 minutes of use, but i wasn't about to stop at 7:30pm just because i didn't feel like strapping on my light. Race isn't over until 9pm, afterall. I made an effort to save a little something for the last lap, a had no intention of making it minutes faster or anything like that, afterall, my laps were not that slow to begin with. no, i just wanted to have enough get up and go left to make my last lap every bit as consistent as every other lap had been. there was one section of the climb which i had been walking for the last 3 laps and i decided on lap 12 that i was going to muscle my way up it, it sucked, but i did it. It wasy a bad move in terms of energy conservation and racing wisely, but that's what's sort of fun about the last lap, you don't have to worry about these things! My last lap was beautifully consistent once again and i came through the pit feeling extremely satisfied with the day's race and my performance. I was really excited that it was over though! I felt like i'd been baking in the oven all day and i just wanted to sit down in the cool darkness and let it all soak in. Jamie had packed up all the supplies and had fresh clothes waiting for me when i rolled in. Where has this girl been all of my life?!Jamie and her mother were kind enough to take care of me during the race and by the end of the event, we were working like a well oiled machine. I was extremely pleased with the efficiency of our pit stops. Thanks Jamie Girl! you're the greatest girlfriend ever! And thank you too Wanda, you guys were behind two solo victories(Chris won his class too), i'm pretty sure no other pit crew can say that! The raffle seemed to go on forever and awards seemed to end almost as soon as they began, hmmm. Ended up with 12 laps, winning solo pro. second did 9 laps....he, he, he. The nevada city classic was happening the next day and i wanted to be up there to watch the race, and possibly work the event too as my shop promotes and organizes it. Jamie and I left the race at 4am after crashing at about 12:30 or so. I couldn't sleep and got up to eat more food and take a littel walk, i was burning up after being in the sun all day, but after walking around in the cool blackness of the desert night for a while and making a little bathroom stop to adandon 12hrs of clif bars and gu, i was ready for a little shut eye. it was now 1:30am, alarm went off at 3:45am. I was so excited to be driving back with Jamie that i didnt even feel tired, not until that after noon when we arrived at the nevada city classic and began to mull about did the severe exhaustion set in. We must've both looked a little like zombies, very tan zombies, but zombies none the less and we couldn't stay for the pro race, which didn't start until 5pm. no, there came a point when sitting inside an air conditioned house became far more important than watching some roadies ride around in circles.I'm a little worried at this point about my right leg, it hurts, it's not just sore, it hurts. eight + hours on the gas pedal immediately following a 12 hr race in obscene temperatures has certainly taken it's toll on my leg. i have no hope in tonights prairie city race, just going out to have some fun.I'm sorry for the extreme length of this report and for the inclusion of so many non race related details, but for me racing istn't as much about lap times and course descriptions as it is about the experiences surrounding the race itself. The events before and after a race are a lot more interesting in most cases than the race itself and it just wouldn't be a race report without the inclusion of all the other details, ya know?

Weaverville 2008

I know that this race report is late, like waaayy late. But better late than never, right? Anyway, I knew that i needed to rest up after the Cool 24hr race and that although rest was important, i couldn't really stop training either, I had to balance things out just right so that I would have plenty of energy but not lose any fitness beofre Weaverville.You body does odd things after a 24hr event, the week immediately following one of these events, it feels like your body is more numb than anything else, it's so fatigued that you just don't really feel anything while you're out riding. so, although i did take an extra day off the week after Cool, i still rode quite a bit more than i should have and raced out at Prairie City the wednesday following Cool. Did pretty okay too, riding back home after the race i was completely toasted though, like completely toasted. It's two weeks after a 24hr race that the grueling effort catches up with me. I felt like complete ass two weeks after Cool and raced like a retard at Prairie City. My fatigue during this week motivated me to rest up quite a bit in the week leading up to Weaverville.More concerning than my fatigue however, was my seeming inability to stay upright on my bike in the weeks following Cool. I crashed like every other time i threw my leg over the top tube. it was getting pretty ridiculous and i was not only becoming extremely frustrated, i was legitimitely worried because i had crashed on my left hip multiple times in something like four days. every time i'd start to feel a little better, like i could actually use my leg again, i'd simple crash once more and start over at square one. My leg hurt so bad and i felt so torally beat up by the middle of the week before Weaverville, that i took thursday off in an effort to try to recuperate. I couldn't walk straight and getting out of my car hurt in more ways than one. I figured an extra rest day would probably go a long ways.So, after my thursday rest day, i worked a little on Friday morning before heading off to Redding that afternoon to meet a family who had agreed to help me out at the race. I had no idea where this initial meeting was going to lead me only a couple of weeks later, but we'll get to that later on. Shortly after the Cool 24hr race, i was messaged by a young girl who had seen me at the race. She offered her support at Weaverville once she found out that I would be racing self supported. Her father was also racing in the event and she seemed excited to help me out. She and her family were going out to dinner in Redding the evening before the event and they invited me to come along. I was eager to learn more about this lovely girl, i was intrigued. I had no idea that pretty girls went to bike races at all, much less actually enjoyed them. Heck, this particular girl even likes riding her bike! I quickly learned that not only was this girl AMAZING, but her family was pretty awesome too. They even offered to let me stay with them in their hotel that evining... anyone who thinks i'm not the luckiest guy isn't paying close enough attention. Oh, i forgot to mention that it had started to rain during dinner and by bed time, it was going pretty steady. Tomorrow was liable to suck pretty bad. As if riding a bike for 12 hours wasn't enough of a task... I was definitely not excited about trying to do it in the rain. I tried not to think about it as i lay on the floor of the hotel in the dark. Who was this girl? How did i end up here, how could i be so lucky? how could it really be raining right now? It's damn near June in California God Damnit! Oh well.Up at 5:30am so we could drive to Weaverville and pick up registration packets/set up pit areas before the 8am start time. It wasn't pouring rain, but it was far from dry, the windsheild wipers were definitely on as i drove down the winding hwy towards Weaverville, trying to prepare myself for the tough day that lay ahead of me. I set up my Pit while bringing Jaimie up to speed on where things were at and filling her in on my game plane for the race. I told her whom i was worried about in the field. A good luck hug and it was off to the starting line.Matt Chaney was my main concern, he always says he's in terrible shape or that he just crashed or that he isn't training, but he's always fucking fast. Sloane Anderson was on the line too, I've raced with him before, but i'm usually in a different class, today we would be racing against one another in the pro class. I had opted to race my single speed even though i was not entered in the ss class. I hadn't yet gotten the fit on my Scalpel to the point where i felt super confident, and if the weather went the way i thought it was going to go, i figured a single speed was going to be a better choice than a geared bike anyway in the sloppy conditions we were about to be facing.After the initial cluster fuck at the start, i positioned myself at the front of the field with Matt. I wanted to pace myself based on his riding, no sense going out fast if he wasn't doing so, he was still my main concern. Matt got off and walked portions of the climb on the first lap, so i did too. we led over the top of the climb and a group of about 5 of us went through the pit together. I decided i wasn't walking on the second lap. Matt got off, i never saw him again. Although the race now seemed to be betweeen myself and Sloane(we leap frogged for the next few laps), i was still more concerned with Matt, i couldn't let him catch me, that would be the point of no return. I would gap Sloane on the climb and he would catch me at the bottom of the hill, just before the pit, nearly like clockwork, on the next five laps. I realized that if i couldn't extend my gap and keep in front of Sloane through the pit zone in the next two laps, then my race might be over. Weather conditions deteriorated throughout the day and by the fifth lap, things were pretty bleak, not to mention dangerous. A crash on my sixth lap turned my focus from destroying the feild to just beating second place. I had landed on my hip once again, of course, and by the time i got to the pit i was huritng so bad that i wasn't sure i would be able to manage to climb. I took 2 alieve and set out for another lap. I don't know how, but i just pushed through the pain and kept on going. Just two more after this....I got the gap I was looking for on Sloane and now i had to time my laps so that I could keep that gap without speeding up the pace to the point that we would come across the line with time for a tenth lap. Or, increase the gap and hope that he didn't respond so that even if i crossed with time for another lap, he would cross too late to go out again. this is where it gets tricky and i was glad that i had decided to invest in a wrist watch so i could monitor where i was at time wise.I came through the pit after my eighth lap and learned that Matt and Sloane had both packed up and gone home when the conditions had turned stupid. Second place had just gone out on his eighth lap a couple minutes earlier... I had already won. This was a twelve hour race though, so i wasn't done yet, winner or not. I set out on my ninth lap with one thought: Don't Crash. A crash could still ruin my race and the course had become very dangerous, i had plenty of time and just focused ..ing safely. I came through at 7pm without enough time to race another lap, my race was over.I just stood there for a few moments, staring into the gloom, letting my body accept the fact that it didn't have to move any more. not today at least. I thanked Jaimie for her help, she'd done a great job, and then it was off to the showers.They gave me a cool Mountain Hardware tent for winning the race. It seemed unreal that the race was over and that i'd not only survived, but i'd done well. I'm extremely proud of this victory, I think my toughest competition was myself. anyone who knows me knows how much trouble i have in the cold and the wet. good stuff

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Time to Rest...

I am exhausted. It's time for a little break I think. It's not as if I've been racing a lot over the last month or so, but I'm tired none the less. In fact, I have a tendancy to become more beat down during periods when I don't race than during periods when I do.


Knowing that I have a race coming up keeps me from going all out during training days, it keeps me from adding on a couple of extra hours in the evenings which start out as an easy spin and evolve into a hammer fest. No racing means no tangible reason to take it easy. So although I haven't been racing, I've had a few 30-40 hr training weeks over the last month and with school starting back up and work remaining as busy as ever, I think a few days off the bike will do me some good.


Rest of the week off, back on the bike on Saturday.

See you all at Tahoe Sierra... I'm thinking of rocking my hardtail. Has anyone ridden the course? Would a FS be better?